Lancaster High School’s Debbie Bates Honored with Inaugural Technology Award Sponsored by CAFÉ and Mercer Culinary

Debbie Bates honored for guiding her culinary students through the complex world of technology and culinary arts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ANNAPOLIS, MD, June 18, 2021 – Debbie Bates, culinary instructor at Lancaster High School’s Stanbery Career Center, received the first-ever 2021 Technology Award from Mercer Culinary and the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ).

The new national award recognizes a culinary/hospitality program or individuals that successfully introduced and guided students in the complex world of technology and culinary arts.

Technology and culinary arts are close partners, perhaps more than meets the eye. Most culinary students will become well-versed in programs such as point of sale systems, restaurant concept creation software and billing systems before they graduate. However, COVID-19 shutdowns forced students from the Stanbery Career Center Culinary Program to learn to take technology to a higher level.

In March 2020 in-person culinary competitions, such as the Ohio ProStart Invitational, changed to virtual competitions where students were required to not only cook their menus but also document the process with video and additional tracking information such as detailed timelines. These extra steps required video expertise, Google sheet knowledge and more. Additionally, the students were given a short time to record, edit and present the new information.

“I was very proud that they learned to meet and work together on Zoom finding programs that allowed them to change and create content in real time,” Bates said. The students created templates, loaded the content and won the 2020 Ohio ProStart Virtual Culinary Competition. Bates explained that the students earned thousands of dollars in scholarships which gave them the opportunity to attend culinary school.

All culinary and hospitality competitions for the current 2020-2021 school year were also virtual. The digital platforms from the previous year set the stage for more advanced technology work. In collaboration with the school’s Broadcasting and Multimedia students, culinary students learned how to write a script, create a production state, edit, shoot, record close-up shots, create voiceovers to narrate their production video, use cue cards and read a teleprompter.

“It has been a wonderful learning experience and they obviously gained real-life skills.  Their accomplishments are truly worthy of this award,” Bates said.

The inaugural 2021 Technology Award provides a cash prize and commemorative plaque. Additionally, Bates received a complimentary registration to attend CAFÉ’s 2022 Leadership Conference held next June in Portland, Maine.

Mercer Culinary manufactures and supplies cutlery and accessories for the professional culinary market. Exceptional materials, unique design and dedicated craftsmanship are the hallmark of Mercer products. Mercer is the predominant supplier to culinary education with a strong presence in commercial foodservice spanning more than 30 years. Quality, performance, value, and service are the focal points for this second-generation family business.

Founded in 2002, CAFÉ’s mission is to link culinary educators with the foodservice industry. The organization provides up-to-date resources to foodservice educators who are training students for vibrant, fulfilling careers in the ever-evolving hospitality industry. CAFÉ supports the unique needs of highly specialized professionals who wear two hats as culinarians and educators through its online magazine, The Gold Medal Classroom, free digital resources such as CAFÉ Talks Podcast and Coffee with CAFÉ webinars, as well as national outreach events. For more information, visit our website: