Sherwood third-graders open restaurant in school, Taste of Missouri
Server Gabe Harris looked over his table’s bill. He knew they had ordered a lot of food, but he was struggling to come up with the total.
“I know what I’ll do,” he said, looking up from his order on a small clipboard. “I’ll go ask a teacher!”
Gabe is one of more than 60 third-graders running Taste of Missouri, a restaurant in Sherwood Elementary School. Open for just four days and executed in just three weeks, the restaurant and bakery is the culminating project of a massive project-based learning unit, said Callie Baldwin, a third-grade teacher at Sherwood.
“Last year we had a restaurant, where students learned about nutrition, but this year we’re using the restaurant as a way for our students to learn about Missouri’s culture, cuisines and agriculture,” she said. “So they had to research, develop and create foods that speak to Missouri’s culture to sell to the Sherwood community.”
During the month of February, students were visited by two chefs who demonstrated elements of food preparation. A health inspector showcased the importance of food safety and proper apparel and temperatures when cooking food, and students were visited by a Bass Pro Shops marketing consultant, who helped them create a logo and a name for their restaurant and bakery concept.
“Our students are doing everything for the restaurant,” said Lacy Cartwright, a third-grade teacher at Sherwood. “The students do all of the cooking. They were in charge of researching recipes inspired by Missouri’s agriculture and culture. They were in charge of food safety checklists and designed the menus, the fliers. They made commercials on WeVideo. They had to learn how to count back money and supply and demand. It’s their restaurant.”
Over four days, students will be prepping, cooking, baking and serving a full menu of recipes inspired by Missouri, including pulled pork sliders, barbecue smokies wrapped in bacon and St. Louis style pizza and ooey gooey butter cake. Springfield style cashew chicken ran out in 45 minutes during the restaurant’s soft opening.
“It’s fun because we get to experience all the people who are happy with our food,” said third-grader Kayle Burnham. “I really like it.”
At the end of this week, the participating students from all four classes will determine what charity will receive proceeds from the restaurant. Last year, two classes raised $926 for the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center at CoxHealth. Baldwin, Cartwright and their co-teachers for the unit, Margo Griffith and Ashlee Johnson, expect to raise more this year.
But it takes a whole school community to make this project-based learning unit come to life. Sherwood cafeteria team members made room in school ovens to give space to students baking cookies. Local businesses donated ingredients to the students to reduce the restaurant’s cost to open. And fellow Sherwood teachers and staff members will allow their students to visit the restaurant as guests.
“Basically, the fun I get to have is giving people food and watching people enjoy it,” said Gabe. “The most fun part definitely wouldn’t be eating it, because we have to wait until Friday to do that.”