New Cooks in the Kitchen: Seniors Offered Course in Culinary Studies

This fall, Mount Madonna School (MMS) seniors have the opportunity to “get cooking” in a Culinary Studies course being taught by Sara Sobkoviak.

Students who sign up for this elective course will be introduced to a broad “menu” of learning – including visits from guest chefs to introduce different cooking techniques and share industry innovations corresponding to each study unit; a sampling of chemistry-focused food science, and the chance to participate MMS-style “Chopped” competitions (based on the popular Food Network reality show). The class will take field trips to professional kitchens in the area to experience and learn in a working setting.

The curriculum will include an introduction to food terms, equipment and measurements, food safety and sanitation, meal management, including nutrition, diet, health food choices and portion control. They’ll gain insight into food industry and concerns with food such as environmental issues pertaining to food production and waste. The course will emphasize the art of cooking and prepping meals from scratch; as look at organic, sustainable, local and seasonal food, and menus, recipes and the importance of Mise en Place or “everything in its place.”

In their weekly kitchen labs, students will make healthy modifications to different recipes and prepare a variety of dishes, including soups, homemade pastas, French pastry, intricate dishes and baking, as well as advanced plating and hors d’ oeuvres. All of the food will be vegetarian, with some vegan options, as well.

“I have been working in professional kitchens since age 15,” commented Sobkoviak, “starting in my mother’s commercial kitchen. I also participated in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program at Cabrillo College, before moving on to working in professional kitchens in Carmel and Pebble Beach for La Balena under Chef Brad Briske, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, and Aqua Terra Culinary. I have an immense passion for cooking and am excited to explore more the science, nutrition and creativity of making our own food with students!”

The school community will have several opportunities during the school year to sample food prepared by the students, including at the fall Open House on October 28, where students will prepare crudités platters served with homemade sauces and dips, as well as fresh-baked cookies.

To help supply the class, Sobkoviak and students are looking for donations of items, gently used or even new, that you might have hanging around your kitchen in need of some culinary love! Thank you to those who have already donated supplies.

Here is what is still needed:




Baking/cake pans/cupcake molds

Dough scraper

Food processor

Pastry bags and tips


Instant read thermometer

Standard mixer

Steam basket

Ice cream maker

Kitchen towels


Parchment Paper

Large round and square storage containers

Hotel Pans (2″ & 4 “)

Sheet Pans (full & half sheet)

If you have items to donate, please send up to the MMS Office in a bag labelled “for Culinary Studies” or ask your student to drop it off with Sobkoviak.

Bonne cuisine! Happy Cooking!


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Director of Marketing & Communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.