‘School food’ was never like this

Robin McDaniel
One of the main dishes offered at the culinary dinner was Grilled Chicken Alfredo.

Photo by Robin McDaniel

One of the main dishes offered at the culinary dinner was Grilled Chicken Alfredo.

There are some culinary masters in our midst, and I had the pleasure of enjoying the fruits of their labor recently at a basketball tournament at William Blount High School. Believe me, “school food” was never like this!

The occasion was the Hospitality Dinner prepared by the William Blount High School Culinary Arts Class. Instructor Marty Durand led his team of first-year students to prepare the dinners for the basketball tournament. Each night of the tournament, a hospitality team served 75 to 100 coaches, parents, referees and officials.

The students prepared a different entrée each night. My lucky night was Thursday, and it just so happened that Grilled Chicken Alfredo was on the menu, which is one of my favorite dishes. A second entrée that night was Spaghetti and Meatballs with a salad, garlic bread and homemade croutons. Dessert was cheesecake with various toppings, cupcakes and chess bars.

Everything was delicious and Marty even provided some recipes. Thank you to Marty Durand and especially to the students who did such a wonderful job.

Here are a few of the recipes I got that evening.

Grilled Chicken Alfredo

Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup butter

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 cups Half & Half

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes, softened to room temperature

1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese

1/2 tsp. pepper


1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower florets

1/2 cup sliced carrots

2 tbsp. olive oil

Chicken and pasta

1 lb. grilled chicken, sliced into strips

2 lbs. penne pasta

To prepare the sauce, melt butter in a medium skillet and sauté garlic for 3 minutes. Stir in Half & Half and bring to a slow boil. Wisk in flour until mixture starts to thicken (about 2 minutes). Add cream cheese and stir, then whisk until melted. Add pepper. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Keep sauce warm but be careful not to burn it.

Sauté the vegetables in a medium skillet until al dente (about 5 minutes). Add the vegetables and chicken to sauce. Ladle over cooked pasta.

Blueberry and White Chocolate Baked Cheesecake

By Yuliza Bernal

For the base:

1/4 cup melted butter

2 1/2 cups crushed sugar cookies

For the filling:

1 pint sour cream

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup lemon juice

3 cups granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup white chocolate, melted

1 cup blueberries


Crush cookies and mix with melted butter. Firmly press mixture into greased, 10-inch spring form pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes until golden brown.

To make the filling, beat together all ingredients except blueberries until it has thickened. Pour 3/4 of the mixture on top of the crust and then scatter on the blueberries. Pour the rest of the cheese mixture over the blueberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off oven and open oven door for 5 minutes. Close oven door and allow cake to reach room temperature, which should take about 45 minutes. To avoid cracking, release spring form pan to allow edges to cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Whitney Bookout’s favorite toppings

Blueberry Topping:

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

Place blueberries and sugar in thick-bottomed pan. Place pan over medium high heat until sugar melts. When mixture is boiling, swirl pan evenly. Cool to room temperature.

Strawberry Topping:

1 pint strawberries

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Cut 1/3 of the strawberries in half and place in a saucepan over medium high heat. Combine everything for 5 minutes in a blender. Puree 1/3 of sauce, then mix back into the remainder.

Chocolate Topping:

6 oz. of chocolate

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup water

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double-boiler. Stir in sugar,vanilla and water until smooth. Take off heat and spread over cheesecake.

Brooke Woods Homemade Croutons

Sourdough bread cut or pinched off into bite-sized pieces.

3 Tbsp. olive oil to every 3 cups cubed sourdough pieces.

1 Tbsp minced garlic (in oil)

1 T. garlic salt

1 tsp. oregano

3 Tbsp. dried basil

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