Sister Schubert

Published 9:24 pm Friday, August 21, 2009

Paula Hinson is the new culinary arts teacher at Charles Henderson High School.

She is getting to know her students and they are getting to know her.

And, that’s important. But what’s also important is for the students who chose to enroll in the Culinary Arts Academy to realize that the academy is not just a way to learn to cook. It’s a beginning path that can lead to a very successful future in the food service industry – if they choose to follow it.

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“For the first couple of weeks, I wanted the students to learn more about the food service industry and the many opportunities that are available to them in that industry,” Hinson said. “Too often, students think that the food service industry just offers jobs as waiters, waitresses and cooks. They don’t know that there are exciting opportunities on cruise ships, at resort area restaurants, in hotels, conference centers, and just so many places. Chefs are highly trained and are in demand. For those who enjoy working with food, there are many opportunities and I wanted them to know that.”

Hinson decided the best way for the students to learn about the food service industry and the opportunities for those who think big, work hard and believe in themselves was from one who had done just that.

She invited Patricia “Sister Schubert” Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls based in Luverne, to speak to the students.

“I wanted them to hear from someone who had a dream about a career in the food service industry and made that dream come true,” Hinson said. “Sister Schubert is a hometown girl and Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls actually started in her kitchen right here in Troy.”

Barnes spoke to the students in the introductory class and those in Culinary Arts I and II.

She told them how her grandmother taught her to make wonderful Parkerhouse style rolls when she was a young girl. Barnes said she tried several careers but cooking and baking were her passion.

“I was never happier than when I was preparing food for my family and friends,” she said. “By 1989, I was running a little bitty catering business that I called The Silver Spoon. Everyone raved about the Parkerhouse style rolls that I baked using the old family recipe I inherited from my grandmother.”

That year, a friend asked Barnes to donate a few pans of rolls to a local church’s holiday frozen food fair. She sold 20 pans and people placed orders for the next year. She had to cut off orders at 200 pans that year and 300 in 1991.

“I sat down after that third holiday fair and said to myself, ‘If the people in Troy like my rolls, maybe other folks will, too.’”

Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls was born because a hometown girl dared to dream.

Barnes told the students that the food service industry is a varied, interesting and challenging one.

“We live in the most food-safety conscious country in the world,” she said. “Everything that we do is done with safety in mind. We are USDA inspected and it’s strict. When you visit some other countries and see the way their food is handled, it makes you really appreciate the efforts that we make to ensure that our food is prepared safely.”

The students’ eyes widened when Barnes explained that the dough she works with is “alive.”

“It’s working and it’s creating,” she said. “I compare it to a bear that’s in hibernation. When the dough ‘wakes up,’ it’s not too happy but it makes the most wonderful bread.”

The students were invited into the kitchen where Barnes demonstrated the art of baking Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls. They each had an opportunity to roll the dough, cut and double-fold the rolls, sprinkle on cinnamon and give the rolls a butter bath.

“I love baking the rolls almost as much as eating them,” Barnes said. However, when the rolls came out of the oven, the students seemed to enjoy the eating just a bit more.

After a good, hearty “taste” of the food service industry, Barnes challenged the students to follow their dreams as she did.

“I love what I do,” she said. “We have a wonderful working environment at Sister Schubert Homemade Rolls. And, I’m so happy and excited to be there. Every day is a blessing. That’s what I hope you will do. Find something that you really love to do and do it.

“Don’t be afraid to try things. I tried my idea. You try yours. Make it happen. Do what you love. Believe in yourself. Don’t count on someone else to make it happen for you. Do it yourself. You make it happen. If you love what you do, you will be happy and those around you will pick up on that happiness. So, find what you love to do and make it happen.”