Bon Appétit: FHS candidates present cooking projects

Sophomores Grace Denomme and Mary Doman present their gallette aux rois des pommes in Madame Campbell’s room. (Photo credit: Alana Sullivan)

Any students who stayed in the building after school last Tuesday and happened to pass through the south wing of the building may have momentarily forgotten they were in Mercy High School and not a gourmet French restaurant. Mouthwatering scents drifted down the halls and plates of food, from tarte tatin to beouf bourguignon, were whisked by. French Honor Society (FHS) candidate cooking presentations were well underway.

Each year, eligible sophomores and juniors enrolled in Mercy’s French program are invited to begin the candidacy process that will, by late March, result in their being inducted as full-fledged members of the organization. To be eligible to be a candidate, students must have a 3.4 GPA in French and a 3.2 overall GPA at the time of acceptance. Along with accruing the minimum number of service points (in the candidates’ case, 15 points) by attending meetings and helping with society-sponsored events, the largest amount of weight when accepting candidates into the society is given to the final French cooking project.

The 30 candidates (four juniors and 26 sophomores), had been working on their projects since October, when region and dish assignments were first made. Students were given a region of France and a specialty dessert or main meal from the region and instructed to prepare a speech – delivered in perfect French – on the region and the dish. They were also expected to make a poster with information about the region and dish, and decorate their presentation tables with colors, objects, and symbols relating to their region. Though it was clear that the project would be time-consuming, many candidates were excited to get to work.

I really like French class and I knew French Honor Society would be something I’d enjoy participating in,” said sophomore Ana Warner. “I love the events that we organize and go to, like the restaurants and French Immersion Day. The project, of course, I had to do to be accepted. It sounded fun – who wouldn’t want to cook French food?”

After months of preparation, the candidates brought in their decorations, food, and French skills before either society moderator Madame Joyce Campbell or assistant moderator Mr. Joe Gerardi, and a panel of upper-level French students. Candidates were scored on their accuracy, thoroughness, pronunciation, presentation, and ability to respond to impromptu questions after the presentation. 

All in all, said sophomore Mary Doman, who presented on the region of Bretagne and prepared an apple pie-like dessert, the process was tricky, but ultimately rewarding.

The most difficult part was writing the script all in French,” said Doman. “[It was] very challenging, but I love being a part of the program because it is so authentic, and is exposing me to a whole different culture.”

After all the presentations were given, the candidates joined together along with Madame Campbell, Mr. Gerardi, and the assisting upper-level students to enjoy a buffet-style spread of all their creations and dishes. FHS officer and panel judge senior Jillian DeWitt is proud of the candidates’ work and looks forward to welcoming them into the society.

“[The presentations] were so amazing,” said DeWitt. “You could tell the girls put a ton of effort into the projects and that they put a lot of time into attending workshops, asking for help from upperclassmen, and practicing for countless hours. I was beyond impressed and I think they will make awesome additions to the club.”

This week, official society acceptance letters will be sent to those candidates whose presentations and dedication over the last two semesters made the cut. New members will be inducted into the society at a ceremony set to take place some time next month.