Jalen Smith is cooking up big plans to attend a college culinary program, with an ultimate goal of opening his own restaurant.
The Ketchikan High School senior has been taking culinary classes for the past three years, and is ready to take his learning further after graduating with the class of 2021.
Earlier this month, Smith learned he was accepted into the culinary program at Missoula College in Missoula, Montana.
Speaking in the industrial Kayhi culinary kitchen, Smith told the Daily News that his interest lies specifically in learning about world cuisine.
"I'm hoping to master, kind of, multiple techniques for cooking," Smith said. "So when I open my restaurant, I'm going to have all the techniques that I can."
It's not just the culinary program that attracted Smith to his top-choice school.
"I really want to go to Montana because (of) snowboarding and skiing," he explained. "And some of my teachers have had their kids go to that college and ... they say it's a really good college to go to."
The reason behind Smith's drive to pursue a culinary career is simple.
"I like to cook and have people enjoy my food, (and) see the smiles on their face," Smith said.
His favorite culinary class at Kayhi has been the introductory class he took during his sophomore year.
"All of my friends were in it ... so we were all learning together, and we, kind of caused havoc for Ms. Cameo (McRoberts, Kayhi's culinary course teacher)," he joked.
Smith's Kayhi culinary classes have taught him "how to actually cook in an industrial kitchen, he said. "And (about) how fast you have to work to be really precise."
Smith's favorite assignments always come at the end of the quarter.
"You have to pick a dish to make, and I always choose different ones from around the world," he explained.
Last year, Smith chose Chicken Vesuvio, an Italian dish with roots in Chicago kitchens.
Smith also enjoys cooking crepes, because it allows him to experiment with different tools in the kitchen, such as the professional crepe skillet.
Smith is enrolled at Missoula College for the fall 2021 semester.
"I'm most looking forward to have a whole bunch of kids going through the whole process with me, so we'll all be on the same level," Smith said.
To other hopeful culinary students, Smith advised that there are a lot of opportunities for getting started.
"There are a lot of scholarships and a lot of opportunities for them to take, so you can be pretty successful in the culinary world," he said.