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Haute Cuisine a l'ecole

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Richard Grausman, a cooking teacher for 25 years, was alarmed by students' ignorance of even the most basic cooking techniques. "I heard disturbing reports about families not eating together, cars with microwave ovens; ... that's bad news for a food educator."

Armed with $175,000 worth of donated cookware and ingredients, Mr. Grausman has toured eight New York City high schools since February, divulging the savory secrets of such dishes as canard a l'orange and tarte alsacienne to eager home-economics teachers and students alike.

"This is a great experience for students who aren't going on to higher education," a pleased Mr. Grausman says.

To help those students along, Mr. Grausman has developed several scholarships and awards related to his palatableprogram, among them a $12,750 scholarship to the prestigious French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. Students from the eight schools will compete for the scholarship. Aspiring chefs who complete the yearlong course at the institute routinely land jobs in top restaurants in the city.

Mr. Grausman says he hopes to expand his gastronomic program to schools in Minnesota, Ohio, and Colorado.

Among his epicurean converts is Elizabeth Martinez, a senior at Julia Richman High School in Manhattan, who initially had planned a career in nursing but decided to become a pastry chef after getting a taste of Mr. Grausman's cooking class.

Anticipating her first year at New York Technical School for Hotel Management, she admits that French cuisine seemed like "heavy stuff" at first. As for her mouth-watering vocation, Ms. Martinez looks forward to "creating something that makes you and me feel good at the same time."--skg

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