Aiken High School culinary arts students will prepare the program’s annual benefit dinner at Newberry Hall on Feb. 19.


The students will work under the guidance of Patrick Carlisle, veteran chef for Newberry Hall. The event will begin at 6 p.m., with seating starting at 6:30 p.m.


“We’ll start between 8 and 9 in the morning and prepare the meal all day,” said class instructor Jean Gorthy. “Newberry Hall is always positive and enthusiastic.”


The proceeds will benefit the culinary arts program itself, providing resources for competitions and equipment. The dinner will feature stuffed pork loin with apple sage sausage stuffing and port wine reduction sauce; tricolored roasted potatoes and fresh steamed S.C. veggies.


Tickets are $45 for singles and $85 for couples, and are available at Plum Pudding.


Carlisle said the benefit dinner will be a great experience and not only for the students. Newberry Hall welcomes the chance to get young people who are the future in their field, he said.


Current Aiken High student Tom Diehl has worked at Newberry Hall for the past three years. A former student, Cory O’Connor, also has worked for the firm, as are Reece Summer and newcomer Sherenda Woody.


“They’re really an asset to our operation,” Carlisle said. “We’re giving all the students an experience to showcase their culinary program.”


At a similar benefit in January 2012, the Aiken High students kept up a frenetic pass to prepare the meal.


“I like doing this, as it gives us more experience,” said senior Thomas Cook. “We’re getting to work with people who do this every day. You have to stay professional, especially when you’re in the kitchen. We have a job to do and to get it done.”


Gorthy’s culinary competition team took part in a regional cookout last Friday at Trident Technical College in North Charleston.


The difficulty of the contest hasn’t changed, but so many more schools are participating, Gorthy said.


The team “came in fifth overall and did a really nice job,” Gorthy said. “We heard that we just finished out of the top four, which would have gotten us to state.”


Some culinary arts students have visited Azalea Woods nursing home three times over the past four months. They participate and lead activities with the residents – among them bingo, music in motion and craft projects. They’re returning Feb. 26 for another music in motion activity.