Dining At The White House Project

Posted on Categories Career Information and Exploration, College and Career Pathways, Employability Skills, Project-based Learning

At a Glance

The culinary instructor at Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School brought the non-fiction story of former White House Chef John Moeller, “Dining at the White House” into the classroom, and to life, with an impactful and authentic State-like dinner cooking experience with Chef Moeller.


In this project, students were asked to make a commitment in the second semester of the school year to take on tasks such as reading and writing, new learning, and teaching experiences that simulate an authentic workplace environment. The goal was to help students to decide if they have the passion and work ethic to become an elite chef.

Students were given the following information: “You have just received an invitation from the President of the United States of America to enter yourself into the pool of candidates to interview for a position that will become available with the culinary team at the White House in Washington D.C. Although you are extremely excited, you are unsure if you have what it takes to cook at this elite level for U.S. Presidents and First Families. To accept this invitation and add your name as an applicant, you must read and analyze the non-fiction story of Former White House Chef, John Moeller and author of Dining at the White House, comparing your experience to his. In addition you will create a blog and share your experiences as your read, compile augmented reality experiences to showcase teamwork and culinary skills from recipes in the book, and create an authentic State-like dinner to host VIPs of your community. Once you have completed this fete, you will interview with John Moeller to share the impact of this experience along with your self-reflection on whether or not an elite cooking career would be a good fit for you.”

Origin / Implementation

The idea for this project originated by request from author John Moeller, who was a former student and instructor at nearby Lancaster CTC. Mr. Moeller wanted to determine the impact of his book, Dining At The White House, on culinary students in secondary education. Implementation took place over five months in 2014, beginning in the second semester. During the project, 30 culinary students read the book from cover to cover. They met for one hour weekly to discuss Chef John Moeller’s experience and what they could learn from his life. Students then had to describe themselves, decide where they were going in life, and how their personal value impacted a team structure. Augmented Reality experiences were used to create living word walls and live examples of preparing entries throughout the project. 

Students were then assigned to groups with students from other culinary classes who they did not know. Each group was required to cook collaboratively, video, document, and share their experiences. Through productive struggle and determination 28 of the 30 committed students hosted an authentic State-like dinner for their parents and VIPs of the school and community. Chef John Moeller cooked alongside of the students and shared the impact this project had on his life. 

Results / Impact

This project had a very positive impact on the school. The school buzzed with energy the day of the event as other school’s programs were involved as well. The Video/Media Arts program held a photo shoot for all students and teachers involved in the reading. Graphic and Commercial Art programs design menu cards and posters for display at the event. Guests at the dinner included the editor of the book, Michael Lovell, developer of Augmented Reality, Dr. Robert Gillo, and Career and Technical Distinguished Educator for the State of PA, Dr. Michael Curley. They and other guests savored the flavors and tastes of the dinner while sharing this experience with the students.


Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School

Linda Moyer, Former Literacy Coach
Email: literacy.lmoyer@gmail.com

Connie Muschko, Co-op Instructor
Email: muschkoc@bavts.org

Supporting Files