By Shay Moser

Chef and Culinary Instructor Ryan Mattheis is familiar with Deer Valley Unified School District’s Barry Goldwater High School. He’s also familiar with restaurant work as a former sous chef, eatery assistant manager, catering company chef/partner, and resort catering cook.

He was a student at Barry Goldwater High School who returned with years of resort and restaurant experience to take charge of the high school’s culinary program. The chef thought he’d stay a year. Ten years later he’s guided the transformation of the kitchen and classroom space into a successful restaurant and supports several award-winning students and notable graduates.

“One of my goals for this was to bring in the public to create an authentic experience for the students but also to make this a hub to bring the community together,” says Ryan. “It’s confirmation that I’m doing the right thing and doing something meaningful for the future.”

Founded in 2019, Avenue 27, which is located inside Barry Goldwater High School, at 2820 W. Rose Garden Lane in Phoenix, allows students to cook, serve, and dine, and is also open to the public. The restaurant was remodeled by McCarthy Building Companies to create a welcoming storefront with windows, a canopy, accessibility from the exterior for the public, and an open concept, where diners can see into the kitchen and watch students prepare meals. The $1.5 million project was funded through CTED (Career and Technical Education) funds as part of the district’s membership in the West-MEC (Western Maricopa Education Center).

“The thing I enjoy most about the program is getting to collaborate with people and building relationships and getting to travel,” says culinary student Gracie Keaulii-Katayama, who won second place in Arizona and sixth place nationally in Culinary Arts at FCCLA (Family, Community, and Career Leaders of America). She is also the top 10 junior for C-Cap Arizona (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program of Arizona).

Bond dollars directly support student learning by purchasing the necessary equipment and materials needed in culinary arts, as well as supporting students like Keaulii-Katayama in FCCLA, C-Cap, and ProStart competitions.

An award-winning graduate from the Barry Goldwater High School culinary arts program is Ember Crecelius Phelps. They won a $20,000 US Foods scholarship through C-Cap and more than $80,000 in other cash and academic scholarships in October. Ember is now attending Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island majoring in Baking and Pastry.

“It’s hard to find good workers and help in the culinary field,” Ryan says. “To see these students not only go out in the industry and flourish but also grow socially and professionally is huge.”

Former student Alxs Galit won first place in Arizona and 12th place nationally in Culinary Arts at FCCLA. He also earned his Certified Fundamentals Cook Certification through American Culinary Federation. Alxs is currently completing his chef apprenticeship at Casino Arizona and attending Scottsdale Community College majoring in culinary arts.

“Without the culinary arts program at Barry Goldwater High School, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Alxs. “It’s given me a high school experience that I will cherish forever and culinary fundamentals that I will always keep.”

Alxs also manages social media for the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation. “That’s huge because it’s been a part of the industry for over 50 years and certifies master chefs,” explains Ryan. “They see his potential. It makes me feel good that I set him on the path that started his culinary journey.”

Along with Keaulii, Ember, and Alxs, Jacob Peterson won first place in the Arizona ProStart Competition and placed 19th overall at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C., as a team. This earned these students over $20,000 in scholarships each.

“When you work with a group, it’s an even bigger accomplishment,” says Keaulii. “You’re proud of other people sharing that accomplishment.”

Ryan also proudly mentions notable graduates from his culinary arts program who are working in the Valley, including Leo Kuang, a sous chef at Renata’s Hearth in the Arizona Biltmore Resort; Jenna Kraus, assistant pastry chef at The Country Club at DC Ranch; Zane Gaffney, a traveling corporate trainer and team lead for Fox Restaurant Concepts; and Vicktor Velez, a sous chef at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa.

Before the Barry Goldwater High School culinary arts program students move on to work in the Valley and beyond, you can taste the flavors of the 2023 Arizona winter season on the menu at Avenue 27. Dining for the public will be on Fri., Feb. 3 and 24, March 3 and 24, and April 14 and 21, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Everything on the menu is crafted in-house from scratch. The cost is $25 per person.

“I want people to know how amazing it is to come into this place, how special of a dining experience it is,” says Ryan. “It’s one thing to go to a culinary school, but it’s something else to walk into a high school and see students being professionals running a kitchen and a dining room and a full-blown business.”

Email [email protected] with the date, time, and size of your party to make a reservation.