INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Next time you're on the far-east side of Marion County and find yourself hungry, you may want to go to school.
As part of our weekly coverage of high school football in "The Zone," we also search for stories about good things happening at featured schools away from the field.
To find such a story at Warren Central, all you need to do is follow your nose. Inside the hallways of the Walker Career Center, on the day we visited, there was an unmistakable scent of breakfast. Follow it through what looks like a classroom door, and you'll quickly find yourself in a real restaurant.
"Today is our very first day cooking," Instructor and Chef Carol Rice told 24-Hour News 8. She leads the student staffers at "The Threshold," an award-winning lab that prepares students for real-world success in the food service industry.
Rice says, "The same certification that's at Ruths' Chris or McDonalds, these students are able to leave with that certification."
It hardly "low-key" introduction; once the students have studied and practiced culinary skills in the attached classroom for a few weeks, they are called on to crank out real meals for real customers ordering from a real menu for real money.
And so far it has been a real success.
Rice points out several trophies in The Threshold's lobby and proudly reports that last year's staff won a State Championship.
To a visitor in the kitchen, the intensity and the orders can be intimidating:
Hustling from one food preparation station to the next, Rice reels off commands to the team:
"Let's get these mixing bowls over here, okay!?!
"David, I think your bread is done proofing. Go ahead and pull it down and put it in the oven!"
"Alex, do you have those muffin cups ready?"
"Are you ready for biscuits and gravy?"
Luke Alvarez listens with a smile and keeps peeling hard boiled eggs. He says he's certain that his future is in food service. He loves seeing diners' reactions.
"Just, their faces'" he says. "I just love their expressions. It's like 'This is so good!' Food has this way of talking with people. Communicating with people with food, I feel like. I just love it. I love everything about it."
Tori Mason, leads the wait staff that gets to see those expressions. She's the boss for the day out in the dining area.
"Today I am front of the house manager, so I just make sure everything is set up right and properly,” she said.
"Opening day" diners included school administrators and teachers. And when the food arrives, most of the customers offer wide grins.
"We like smiles here!" Mason says.
The restaurant is open to anyone. The menu has more than 30 items, with entrees ranging from an omelets entree for $2.25 at breakfast to a daily tilapia special for $6.50 at lunch.
"The Threshold" is inside the Walker Career Center at Warren Central High School. Hours are 8-9:30 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch, Tuesday through Thursday, until winter break.
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