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288 Express

Living in Alvin, Manvel and beyond

Learning to be a pro in the kitchen

Culinary arts program trains next generation of chefs Page 6

A publication of

November 2019 Volume 2, Issue 11


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288 Express Fall Festival Page 15

Inside Cover Photo The culinary arts program at Alvin ISD is teaching students how to be professionals in the restaurant industry.

6 12

Cover Story Smokin D’s

15 17

Fall Festival Nelson Elementary


Cover Story

Learning to cook

Students learn that the senses—sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch— have the potential to be the greatest tools in a chef’s kitchen arsenal. Below, from left, Chef Jaanai Sherman and paraprofessional Breana Dudley lead the culinary arts program at JB Hensler. The Alvin Independent School District Culinary Arts Program located at the JB Hensler College and Career Academy prepares students for a variety of careers in the food service industry such as: catering, restaurant management, food preparation and baking and pastry. Chef Jaanai Sherman, along with other experienced faculty, leads a group of nearly 50 advanced culinary arts students from Alvin, Manvel and Shadow Creek high schools. Through a partnership with Alvin Community College, students in the dual enrollment program take courses that will allow them to earn


Story and photos by Prentice C. James

two industry-recognized certifications, SERVSafe Food Handler and SERVSafe Food Manager. Advanced culinary arts students are trained to cater various events hosted by the district. Most recently, students put their talent, creativity, passion and attention to detail to the test while serving guests for the Gulf Coast Tasting Event and the Alvin High School class of 1957 reunion luncheon. Hands-on experiences such as these are essential in preparing students for a successful career in the food-service industry.

Mastering the art of slicing is just one of the many skills learned during culinary arts activities. From sauces to exquisite entrees, all dishes are prepared by the students. Not only must the food taste great, but the students are also careful with the presentation to “sell� the dish.


Racks are loaded for baking at JB Hensler. Attention to detail is paramount as culinary arts is a science that requires precision from the chefs-in-training.

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Cooking at JB Hensler is a collaborative effort and the students operate alongside their peers, learning service and leadership skills.

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A great dish is appealing to both the taste palate and the color palette. Whether it’s in the kitchen or serving as a “runner”, the culinary arts students are broadly prepared for future careers in the food industry. Mayor Debra Marz Davison, left, of Manvel, right, enjoys an appetizer prepared by the culinary students at JB Hensler. The culinary arts program provides valuable community exposure for both the school and students. Ever y App body’s rove d!

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A panel of community leaders and Alvin ISD administrators gather at JB Hensler during a tasting event. All of the food and refreshments were prepared by the culinary arts program.



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Smokin D’s

Barbecue Fusion

Even those who don’t typically eat macaroni and cheese can enjoy Smokin’ D’s signature Brisket MacDilla featuring macaroni with smoked brisket and cheese.

Story and photos by Joshua Truksa

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A new twist spices up Texas barbecue


ustin Jimenez has had his Smokin’ D’s food truck for over two years and this year, he moved up into the brick and mortar business, opening a full restaurant in the former location of the Bypass 35 Grill for customers to enjoy delicious food six days a week. The new location has attracted both new and returning customers from near and far. Albert Benavides, whose friends and relatives joked that he paid to open the restaurant by visiting Jimenez’ food truck so frequently, said Jimenez succeeds in standing out with his unique style of barbecue fusion. “The elements of the Mexican food and the Asian food to it, it’s just a whole other

take on it. It’s something new that hasn’t been done in the area,” Benavides said. Benavides’ uncle, Rodrigo Benavides, cousin Rod Benavides and friend Arlington Collado came with Albert to the restaurant while they were in town from Brownsville. They’d previously eaten at the food truck when visiting Albert, but this was their first site of the restaurant. Rodrigo agreed that Jimenez’ unique take on dishes brought out completely new tastes on old staples. “I don’t like mac and cheese. I don’t eat that, but ironically that’s what I’m eating,” Rodrigo said as he enjoyed one of Jimenez’ signature Brisket Macdillas, the iconic food of Jimenez’ truck and now restaurant.

Restaurateur Dustin Jimenez has come a long way from his food truck. The new brick and mortar location of Smokin’ D’s has seating for dozens of people and is open six days a week.

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ACC Fall Festival

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Oakley Ellis, left, of Rosharon, won first place in the Costume Contest at the ACC Fall Festival. Right, Parker Reeves, of Pearland, won second place.

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Moises Herrera, left, of Alvin, won third place in the Costume Contest at the ACC Fall Festival. Right, Jaxon Kopcak, of Manvel, pets a pig.

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Nelson Elementary

A new beginning Bob Nelson was presented with a ceremonial key to the school and spoke briefly at the dedication of the new Bob & Betty Nelson Elementary School, named after him and his late wife.

Story and photo by Joshua Truksa

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Alvin ISD opens Bob and Betty Nelson Elementary


umerous community and district leaders, parent volunteers, friends and family packed the Bob and Betty Nelson Elementary School auditorium as the school’s namesakes were honored in a dedication ceremony Oct. 20. Bob and Betty Nelson moved to Alvin in the early 1960s and always made positive impacts on those around them. Betty was always dedicated to education and encouraged people to play a role in the preparation of Alvin’s children for the future. Carol Nelson, the current superintendent of Alvin ISD, is also the daughter-in-law of Bob and Betty and said Betty encouraged her to move her teaching career to Alvin. “She welcomed me with open arms and she — I didn’t start teaching in Alvin, but I got here pretty quick is what one of my colleagues said,” Carol said. Bob also acted selflessly toward others in the community. As a student at the University of Houston in the 1980s, Carol worked for Bob at his drugstore, Towne Rexall Drug, and said Bob was always willing to help. “People would come into the drugstore and say, ‘Bob, I can’t afford my medicine this week,’ and he would give it to

“I remember being 5 or 6 years old and sitting at the kitchen table, and Grandma would give me a topic, and I would have to write a story, and she would be over here baking homemade fudge, Rice Krispy treats that we all came to love, and when I was finished, she took a break and she would use her red pen — she never stopped grading — and she would mark up my paper and make me rewrite the paper.” Dr. Emily Nelson them and he’d say, ‘Aw, just pay me next week.’ Some did, some didn’t. He didn’t worry about it. He would just give them their medicine if they needed it. So that’s the kind of person that my father-inlaw is,” Carol said. Dist. 29 State Rep. Ed Thompson spoke on the dedication of Betty and the major impact all teachers have on the lives of their students. “I always like to — in a crowd, I always like to say, can you tell me who won the Super Bowl and the World Series in, you know, say 2016 and they all — very few hands go up, but the I say, ‘Do you remember your first-grade teacher?’ and a lot of hands go up. In fact, almost everyone’s hand,” Thompson said. Thompson presented a resolution commemorating the dedication of the school in Bob and Betty Nelson’s names. In addition to celebrating the couple who gave their

name to the school, Bob and Betty Nelson Elementary also celebrated its certification as a STEM Certified Campus by the National Institute for STEM Education. Colleen Kelly, Texas manager for STEMscopes, which provides curriculum for schools across the world, presented the award. Longtime friend Nancy Crutchfield said Betty was a good friend who always remained professional at school. Crutchfield said she would “respectfully describe Betty as ‘prim and proper.’” “Betty was always a lady,” Crutchfield said. “She always had her hair fixed, she wore nice clothes and she was a great role model for the teachers and the students.” Bob and Betty’s granddaughter, Dr. Emily Nelson, spoke of how her grandmother was devoted to teaching. After retirement, Betty hosted lessons in her kitchen to teach her grandchildren how

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to write. “I remember being 5 or 6 years old and sitting at the kitchen table, and Grandma would give me a topic, and I would have to write a story, and she would be over here baking homemade fudge, Rice Krispy treats that we all came to love, and when I was finished, she took a break and she would use her red pen — she never stopped grading — and she would mark up my paper and make me rewrite the paper,” Emily said. Despite a broken ankle, Bob was present for the event to represent both himself and his late wife who died in 2014. He was presented with the ceremonial key to the building, and Principal Tracy Olvera presented two paintings — a portrait of Bob and Betty and a pointillist painting of an owl made of numerous pieces of technology and other facets included in the school’s educational creed. Bob said that his wife’s dedication and success as a teacher has manifested itself not only in the naming of the school, but in the fact that all of his children have completed college. “It was always education, education, and so, it did pay off. Believe me, that’s the only way to get work,” Bob said.



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