WALLINGFORD — As part of her independent study, Macy Buccheri, a senior at Lyman Hall High School pursuing culinary arts, organized the project “In Good Taste.”
“I knew I wanted to do something big to wrap up the year and go out with a bang,” Buccheri said. “We never imagined it being this big.”
The event, which took place at the gazebo at Johanna Manfreda-Fishbein Park Thursday evening, was a collaboration between current and former students of the Lyman Hall Culinary Arts Program.
“All the businesses decided to come back down here and help us and they’re all graduates of the program,” Buccheri said.
Alumni of the program set up booths to promote the businesses they created or now work for after graduating from the program. Along with that, the event included face painting, a food truck, lawn games, music and raffle prizes.
For the graduates, coming back to help out was like a “Cinderella story,” according to Nick Imbrigilio, owner of Passionately Pasta. Imbrigilio was one of culinary arts teacher Sharon Drossopoulos’ first students.
“It feels amazing to see how far the program has come, how much work (Drossopoulos has) done,” Imbrigilio said. “All of these alumni that are here today are proof that she does do a wonderful job.”
Allie Tolla, a 2017 graduate of the program and restaurant manager and event planner at The Library, was the first student to complete the type of project Buccheri organized. She created a pop-up shop that took place at HUBCAP of Wallingford.
“It’s really emotional to be back,” Tolla said. “It’s a great experience. It’s so helpful to be able to be hands-on in high school.”
Drossopoulos said only one or two students a year move on to culinary school or pursue event planning, but she said the goal of the program is to set her students up for success.
“Being part of this program is really something special because it allows them the ability to shine in so many different ways,” Drossopoulos said. “It isn’t really about the cooking, but it’s about setting them up for life and having them be able to show all their skills of communication, collaboration and teamwork.”
By having her alumni help out at Buccheri’s event, Drossopoulos said it was heartwarming to see them back to share what they have been up to since graduating from the program.
“I am extremely proud and humbled to watch them thrive and to see how successful that they have become,” Drossopoulos said.
Reporter Jessica Simms can be reached at [email protected]