Chef Smithey has big plans for RHS

Good things are approaching for culinary


Photo Jennifer Le

Nyema Kicks (’23) frosting the bottom layer of a chocolate cake with cookies and cream frosting.

Sarai Cochran, Staff Writer

Chef Mitchell Smithey isn’t new to Robinson but still has lots to explore. The class of ’91 alumnus been at RHS for around two years since the beginning of last year and has a great deal of plans ahead.

Smithey has lots of big accomplishments. He’s catered and assisted famous people, worked at the Olympics in ’86 and in his junior year at RHS, he and a few other colleagues opened the KFC on Gandy by themselves.

“When I was at Robinson, you know that Kentucky Fried Chicken up there on Gandy, I was the original cook at that location, I opened it while I was in high school…back in ’89 or ’90 something like that,” Smithey explained.

Smithey loves the students at Robinson and the satisfaction of seeing his students making their own food–especially how they smile at how proud they are of their creation.

“I don’t like the book work but I love teaching people how to cook, so training people how to cook has always been fun so it kind of works out,” Smithey said. “It’s satisfying when I get to see their expression when they eat their bread and they’re like ‘OMG’ [or] make a cookie and everyone wants to eat their cookies.”

Safety is the number one priority for Smithey’s students. He makes sure to go the extra mile so that students understand how important safety is in the kitchen. This has proven to be a success since he has not had a student severely hurt themselves in all his years of teaching.

Alena Dodson (’23) frosts the bottom layer of a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. (Photo Jennifer Le)

“[In] Culinary One I pretty much just start off with a lot of sanitation safety, we have to learn about history of culinary, equipment, and then once we get some of that background basic then we start moving into knife skills…” Smithey said. “…I don’t tolerate fooling around.”

As far as helping students cook, Smithey is working with Principal Bhoolai and the Robinson community on making culinary more accessible for those interested in the class.

“We have been talking to Mr. Bhoolai and the guidance counselors, we’re going to open it [culinary] up to make it more accessible,” Smithey said. “There will be more opportunities to meet around other people’s schedules so that we can have more people in culinary…if you have two electives you could choose two culinary classes, I’ve got students this year that I had for two classes and they’re in here two class periods back to back.”


As the school has changed, so has Smithey’s position. From student to teacher, he’s excited to come back and give back, to both students’ educations and their taste buds.