Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

The Dish On Davidson

Madison Davidson reflects on her journey from home cook to aspiring restauranteur
Madison+Davidson+prepares+and+plates+her+Nana%E2%80%99s+famous+dump+cake%2C+known+as+pumpkin+stuff.+Despite+the+simplicity%2C+the+recipe+has+been+one+of+Davidson%E2%80%99s+favorites+to+make+as+it+came+from+her+grandmother.+Although+her+skills+leveled+up+beyond+dump+cake%2C+her+family+still+has+a+large+influence+on+the+food+she+makes.+%E2%80%9CIt+was+my+Nana%E2%80%99s+recipe+so+I+feel+like+it+connects+me+to+my+family%2C%E2%80%9D+Madison+said.
Mac Huffman
Madison Davidson prepares and plates her Nana’s famous dump cake, known as pumpkin stuff. Despite the simplicity, the recipe has been one of Davidson’s favorites to make as it came from her grandmother. Although her skills leveled up beyond dump cake, her family still has a large influence on the food she makes. “It was my Nana’s recipe so I feel like it connects me to my family,” Madison said.

Harsh fluorescent lights beat down on Madison Davidson (11), as she lines a ruler up to cut fresh russet potatoes into perfect batonnets and juliennes. There is a symphony of sizzling as she drops her starchy sticks into shimmering gold oil. She tastes her batch. “Needs more salt,” she notes. With the shriek of the bell she rushes onto the bus, scrambling with sheets of crumpled paper to finish any last assignments before it comes to a screeching halt in front of the school. She hops off the vehicle, making her way into Ladue High School.

Madison attends South Technical High School for their culinary arts program. Her initial interest in cooking started when she was much younger, though, in a place many people can relate to: her family’s kitchen. 

“When I was little, I watched my dad cook a lot,” Madison said. “So my earliest memories are me standing on top of a stepstool watching him.”

Inspired by her dad’s culinary escapades, a 12-year-old Madison started making herself breakfast. 

 “I would make scrambled eggs,” Madison said. “I burned a lot of pancakes. A lot.”

Over time, Madison has leveled up her cooking from foul flapjacks to dishes like crème brûlée. Lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic also provided an opportunity to advance her skills. 

“When [the pandemic] started, [Madison] and my husband would make fancy desserts every weekend, which was a highlight of our week,” Madison’s mom Marteana Davidson said. “I think that may have made her even more interested in cooking.”

While her prowess in the kitchen grew over this time, sophomore year was presented Madison with the opportunity to turn her passion for food into a viable career prospect.  

 “I’m in high school [and] I’m thinking, ‘What do I want to do in my future?’” Madison said. “South Tech is a good starting ground for me. They have professional cooking corporations tied to them that help us gain insight into the industry along with the curriculum.” 

South Tech is built upon imparting practical skills through hands-on learning. They have programs encompassing a variety of fields. In the case of culinary arts, students are able to receive up to two semesters worth of college credits as the program mimics college level culinary courses. 

“The goal every year is to get the kids out there,” Madison’s South Tech teacher Melissa Maness said. “Show them the many different opportunities that they have and try to find something that they enjoy and can build on once they leave.”

 South Tech students start their days in school where they attend classes from 7:30-10:45 a.m. Afterwards, they make their way to “regular school” for core classes. Similar to typical high school courses, the culinary program utilizes a textbook and has quizzes, but there are also many differences. 

“For culinary arts, I feel like there’s less [homework] and more focus on the kitchen,” Madison said. “I feel like there’s going to be more [focus] on the kitchen as we get more into this year.”

Although South Tech sets their students up with many opportunities for success, some may think that participating in a form of education that doesn’t fall into the model of a public high school can be unstable.

“Madison does things in her own way,” Marteana said. “She is not the typical child and she’s very artsy and creative. I don’t think her father and I felt any hesitation because we knew she was very talented in this area.”

Maness also believes that Madison has what it takes to succeed. Working in the food industry gives one high expectations, but Madison has managed to meet them. 

“She’s what a teacher wants in their program as far as [being] very hungry for knowledge,” Maness said. “She wants to learn and wants to be involved. That’s when you can tell that this is somebody’s passion, when they’re gung ho about it.”

After high school, Madison is planning to attend Forest Park Community College, known for their culinary program. She aspires to work in the restaurant industry and travel the world to experience diverse culinary traditions.

 “First, I feel like I have to work at a lot of different restaurants before I can achieve my goal of making my own restaurant,” Madison said. “It is going to take a long time in the restaurant industry.”

Madison’s unwavering passion for cooking and baking, commitment to honing her abilities continue to shine through. As she continues her journey at South Tech and beyond, there’s no doubt  in Madison’s mind that she is destined for a deliciously successful future in the world of cuisine. 

“Whatever she wants to do, she has the potential to do,” Maness said. “I don’t see anything holding her back.”

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About the Contributors
Sara Rohatgi
Sara Rohatgi, Staff
Junior Sara Rohatgi is a staff member on Panorama. This is her first year on staff. In her downtime, Sara hones her detective skills by trying to figure out who keeps stealing her socks in the laundry—a mystery that remains unsolved despite her best investigative efforts.
Alzhraa Mahmoud
Junior Alzhraa Mahmoud is a first year staffer on Panorama. In her free time she enjoys crocheting, knitting, and rewatching the Monk series (go watch it, it's really good).
Mac Huffman
Mac Huffman, ID Editor in Chief
Chronic mispeller, usually outdoors, photo obsessed and founding ID Editor in Chief. When Mac's not editing, they're typically designing infographics or writing stories about identity, food and harm reduction. This is their 3rd year and final year on publications staff.
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