CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith reports on how these promising new chefs prove that they can stand the heat in this week's Study Hall report for The Early Show.
Called the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, or C-CAP, the non-profit was founded by Richard Grausman a dozen years ago.
How do you approach a shy, sensitive kid and tell them that their crepe is underdone, or their glace is not glace enough? He doubles as coach and critic.
Grausman says, “I’m probably a little cruel, I’m a little harsh. My wife is always telling me, ‘Be gentle with them!’”
But there's no room for coddling here.
The students make the same thing, chicken, new potatoes, crepes for dessert, all while elite chefs from around the world look over their shoulders.
The students rise to the occasion. In a sea of frantic activity, Shatoya Jackson is an island of calm. She's a high school senior with her sights set on a real culinary academy. She can't afford to fail here.
How much is riding on how these dishes turn out?
Shatoya sighs, “Everything.”
When the food is finished, garnished and plated up, it is time for the taste test.
Grausman assesses the culinary exam.
“'I hope he likes it!' is all you're thinking,” Shatoya says.
By all appearances, he did. But, Shatoya wouldn't know how much for a few weeks, until it was time to pass out the scholarships.
What does Grausman want someone like Shatoya to take away? Obviously the skills, but is there something more than that?
He says, “The love and the passion that's needed to succeed in the industry and I think she has it.”
Someone else who has it, Alfred Stephens, a Brooklyn native and C-CAP grad is now a pastry chef at Olives, an A-list restaurant in Manhattan.
CBS’s own Bobby Flay who is involved in the C-CAP program, gave Stephens, a pastry chef in New York, his first real job and Alfred still sees him as a mentor.
Stephens says C-CAP changed his life, “Most definitely.”
C-CAP launched Stephens with a $7,000 scholarship and it did the same for Shatoya.
She is thrilled, “I'm glad. I'm just grateful for everything.”