SAN BENITO — In this kitchen, what begins with gathering and measuring ingredients results in a variety of creative and tasty treats created by future leaders.

San Benito High School is holding a culinary arts summer camp this week for students interested in cooking as a hobby or wanting to turn their skills into a career.

Throughout the week, participating students have been learning how to make a variety of desserts and dishes, such as tiramisu, calzones, chicken cordon bleu and chicken fried chicken.

“I’m enjoying the camp,” Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Hipolito Garcia said. “Seeing them have fun learning and going toward a goal is a good way to spend summer.”

On Thursday, 11th grade students Matthew Blanco, Daniel Rios and Roman Romero, Jr. were learning how to bake desserts and present them.

According to Garcia, plating is probably one of the hardest things cooks can do because it showcases their creativity and artistic ability.

“You eat with your eyes before your mouth,” Garcia explained. “I tell them it’s important because it’s what the customer or whoever they’re cooking for is going to see.”

Garcia guided them through the process of making a white chocolate cheesecake filled with jelly and a lemon tart topped with Italian meringue.

Each student presented their desserts while using different styles and techniques.

“They showed their creativity,” Garcia said. “I gave them the components and they came up with their presentation. It was a good experience for them.”

Garcia said some of his students have been taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and cooking at home.

“Something I tell them is right now their parents might come home from working late hours and they can have a meal ready. That’s a big plus,” Garcia added. “Who knows, maybe even during Thanksgiving they’ll be the ones showing their parents how to cook a meal.”

For Matthew, learning how to cook was something he felt inspired to do because he’d seen cooking shows on TV and thought it looked like something cool to try.

“I wanted to learn how to cook just for fun,” Matthew said. “I make stuff at home and help my mom cook. She likes seeing me learn and make new things.”

Roman said he’s always enjoyed cooking and is considering pursuing it as a career to become a head chef or open his own restaurant someday.

“My family has been asking me to make more food for them. On the weekends, I make food for them and they enjoy it a lot,” Roman said. “I feel like I picked up cooking pretty quick.”

Garcia said at the end of the day, his goal is to help his students learn how to cook whether it’s for themselves, their family or as a career.

“It’s a trade where they don’t necessarily have to go work in that field, but they can use it later on in life,” Garcia said. “It’s been rewarding seeing them grow and get excited about the work they make.”