A group of Dayton kids got two opportunities nearly any budding master chef would shape knives to win:
1. They worked in a Michelin 3-star restaurant
2. They were treated to a 12-course meal in that very same restaurant.
“The best thing as a parent and teacher was to see how it blew their minds,” Dayton chef Anthony Head said.
Head, a culinary arts teacher at Ponitz Career Technology Center, and his wife chaperoned six of his culinary arts students on what he called a “high class culinary” experience at celebrity chef Curtis Duffy’s Grace restaurant in Chicago.
They did prep work in and ate in what has been called one of the most expensive restaurants in the nation.
Head said the chefs in Duffy’s kitchen, in particular a female chef the students gravitated to, automatically became mentors to his students.
“(In the kitchen) you could not differentiate between our kids and the rest of the chefs,” Head said.
Two students from the school’s radio and TV program also made the trip.
“Most of these kids had not been out of Montgomery County or Ohio,” Head said.
WHY THIS IS SUCH A HUGE DEAL
Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Grace is owned by celebrity chef Chris Duffy, the subject of the recent Amazon documentary “For Grace.”
Three is the highest rating the Michelin Guide gives and means "exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.”
There are only 13 Michelin 3-star restaurants in the United States.
Head said his students worked with and ate some of the most amazing ingredients in the world.
They ate from a flora and fauna menu that included:
Miyazaki beef - black truffle, pistachio, scallions
Hato Mugi - red wine, idiazabal, sheep sorrel.
Red Kuri Squash - duck, chocolate, sunflower
Guinea Hen - ramp, radish chive
Quince - banana, finger limes, anise hyssop
Chestnut, yuzu, vanilla, basil
Trumpet Royale - oat, persimmon, sea cress
HOW DAYTON KIDS LAND IN A CHICAGO KITCHEN
Head hooked up with Duffy through mutual friend Kathy Zay, a recruiter for the Columbus Culinary Institute.
Duffy, who was just a 19-year-old when his parents died in a murder-suicide, interacted with students and displayed no pretentiousness, Head said.
“It was get in there and work,” Head added. “No ego. He kept it real.”
Brandy Lynch, an 18-year-old Ponitz senior, said the experience at Grace solidified the fact that she wants to be a restaurant supplier and eventually run her own company.
She plans to study supply management, Spanish and international business in college and is considering attend the University of Dayton.
Her dreams are big.
“I am going to foreign places. I am going to Ireland. I am going to Japan...,” Lynch said. “You always need to be moving. You always need to be striving for something bigger.”
>> MORE: Best classic Dayton restaurants