The Lancer

Chef Shepherd cooks up success

Lisa Ruge ’14

Executive Editor; Newspaper

Since the start of the 2013-2014 school year at South Lake High School, a lot of new people have been seen around the building. One new teacher in particular has made a heartwarming effort to get his students more involved in the community, culinary arts teacher Darrel Shepherd.

Starting with a clean slate, he, with the help of culinary assistant Marsha Salome and students, redesigned the program and reopened the Lakefront Bistro in late October 2013. “Chef” as the entire building refers to him, has created an environment  where students learn all about the professionalism and fun that comes with running a community restaurant right in their high school.  In just his first year,  Shepherd’s ultimate goals are already well on their way to realization.

As he told his students during the first week, “Two main things we will do together at South Lake are: 1. we will have the best student run restaurant in the state and still have fun every day. 2. we will use our restaurant to form a bridge to the community so that our neighbors can see what great things are happening at South Lake.”

By creating a rotating staff system that allows his students to switch up their duties for the restaurant every two weeks he encourages  everyone to work together and hone their skills in every aspect of restaurant management,  both  dining room and  kitchen.

Senior Nadiyah Jordan appreciates the changes that have happened to the program since her sophomore year. “We never did anything outside of learning basics last year, she said.   It’s a lot more hands-on and it’s becoming one of my favorite classes to go to during my day.”

Students cook for, and run the bistro’s display at all the events. Putting the proceeds towards the Bistro’s fund for improvements to the curriculum, uniforms and other necessities. The Bistro staff is now also very involved in local charity. Leftover food is often donated to the Macomb Soup Kitchen and other organizations.

Last November, Chef Shepherd his wife Mary, four students, Principal Carmen Kennedy, and Shepherd’s mother Eleanore came to the high school Thanksgiving morning and cooked a full four course meal for over 250 people in need.  He then, along with Kennedy and  Eleanore Shepherd served the food at the community center.  “The people loved our food and were very grateful, it was one of the best Thanksgivings I have had.’ said Chef Shepherd.

Chef’s  passion for cooking and teaching come from home.  Eleanore Shepherd teaches  in Dearborn, and his grandfather owned multiple family-run bakeries throughout Michigan. However his tough-love teaching skills come from a boot-camp style program for adjudicated youths Chef Shepherd worked at before coming to South Lake.  “I enjoyed my time out there, my boys seemed to benefit from the job skills that we were able to teach them.”

Lakefront Bistro customers consist mostly of St.Clair Shores residents and surrounding community members. The price of a full meal including an entreé, soup, dessert and drink is only $6.00. With the helpings being large and made fresh, customers tend to become regulars after their first visit. Not only has the bistro re-opened to the public but has also started traveling to local events such as People’s Choice Award Chili Competition, Aqua Fest, and South Lake’s very own version of Arts Beats & Eats.

The Lakefront Bistro is now open most weeks during the school year from 10:30am to 1:30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Students make all food from scratch using recipes that chef assigns to separate groups of students, including his personal favorite “Italian Grandma recipes”   Anyone is welcome to come and join in on the unique experience of being cooked for and served by South Lake’s talented culinary arts students.

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