NCTC’s “After The Bells:” A Culinary Experience


One of the dishes prepared by NCTC’s culinary students. Photo credit: Adam Monette

Rachel Ledoux, Writer

Northwest Career and Technical Center offers a large variety of learning experiences for its students, but it also reaches out to the school community with its services. One example of this is the “After The Bell” to-go meal sale, which is put on by the students of NCTC’s Culinary Arts program. Though the program is, according to the Culinary Arts’ instructor Adam Monette, “a means to an end,” of covering service competencies for the culinary program, it also functions as a source of delicious meals for Bellows Free Academy faculty and staff. 

According to Monette, every Thursday night, a Google Form menu is sent out to BFA staff and faculty members. Through this form, people are able to purchase one of a limited supply of to-go meals. Typically, the culinary crew make about 30-40 meals for distribution, and staff members are able to pick their to-go meals up the next day. 

Monette explained that the to-go meals, which are made by BFA’s culinary students, include enough food to feed a small family and are often centered around a theme, such as different regional or seasonal cuisine. They are prefixed, and staff members receive one of each meal option that week. These dishes are being consistently adapted and adjusted due to availability and time. Meals include an entrée, a side and a dessert.

Though the original intent was to only have those three food items, this has expanded over time.  Monette often pushes students to work on side projects, which, he said, put a, “value added” product on the menu. 

According to Monette, this program is meant as an opportunity for culinary students to familiarize themselves with both cooking and catering. The to-go meal menus often reflect the material covered in class, as well as new techniques that have been introduced.

Monette said that there are two culinary groups, each of which handle different aspects of the project. C1 (Culinary 1) focuses on a variety of prep work, and C2 uses that prep work to create the dishes. The menu and direction of that week’s meals are determined by C2 as well. The culinary program also produces other meals throughout the year, for holidays and special occasions, and cater events at times. 

Monette added that the meal takes most of the week to put together. Usually, students are stalled on prep due to waiting times for product deliveries and their schedules. Because of this, the group may have only 2-3 days a week to prepare 120 portions of food for the to-go meals.

These meals have been consistently bought out by staff members, and those funds go back into the culinary program to allow students to, “-keep practicing and creating,” said Monette.  The meals do provide a lot of money for the course, with weekly profits averaging at $600-$800. 

If BFA faculty members are interested in purchasing one of these meals for themselves, they are advised to keep a look out for those Thursday evening menus that Chef Monette sends by email.

The menu for this week will be, “highlighting spring and everything that season brings,” Monette said.   

These meals are a way to support BFA students and NCTC programs while also getting lots of delicious food.