Chef Mike Erickson and his Connally High School Culinary Arts program continue to pile up accolades and resume-building opportunities that would make most professionals in the food world envious.

Most recently the CHS Culinary Arts students were invited to participate in two events at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference held in Austin this year for the first time ever.

The IACP is an organization of nearly 3,000 creative and talented professionals from more than 32 countries who are engaged in and committed to excellence in the food industry. Their roll includes some of the most successful and decorated food artists in the world.

The conference, which will be held June 1-4, will use the CHS students as volunteers and they will also get to participate in a group photo on the lawn of the State Capital with Chef Sam Kass, head chef at the White House.

"Being one of two high school culinary arts programs invited to an event of this prestige is an incredible honor for our school and students," Chef Erickson said.

The CHS program will also participate in a pair of programs that originated from First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative. The first is called Chefs Move to Schools. It helps chefs partner with interested schools in their communities to create healthy meals that meet dietary and budgetary guidelines while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices.

"Chefs can have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of children," Erickson said. "By creating healthy dishes that taste good, chefs have a unique ability to deliver these messages in a fun and appealing way to the larger audience, particularly children."

The second program is called Peace Through Pie. The fundraising event will be held at the Limerick-Frazier House in downtown Austin. The program is an expression of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's dream of a "Beloved Community" where everyone shares a piece of the pie.

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