On Friday, the culinary arts kitchen at the regional high school was filled with the smoky aroma of sizzling steaks as students from the Brazilian history class and the One World Club prepared for their seventh annual Brazilian/American friendship lunch. The students had been hard at work in the kitchen since second period, preparing a three-course meal for over 50 people.

Ewellen Carlos moved swiftly, helping out where needed.

“We are Brazilian. As a family we can do this,” Ewellen called out to the other students.

Steaks were on the menu, along with salpicao and brigadeiros. — Maria Thibodeau

“Today was kind of crazy, we didn’t have some of the ingredients we needed,” she added.

There wasn’t enough chicken, the mangos and strawberries for the salad were missing, and they needed potato chips. But after a quick trip to the grocery store, the kitchen was back in business.

One student stirred the salpicao, while others moved rice and beans into a warming unit. Patryck Nascimento flipped steaks on the grill. Mr. Nascimento, 20, graduated a few years ago and is a carpenter now, but has returned for the past four years to help with the lunch.

“Patryck is a guy everyone should know,” said Elaine Weintraub, the history department chair and Brazilian history teacher. “If he knows you need help, he’ll help. Just ask him, as I did this time.”

Preparations began three weeks ago, as students crafted the menu and created their guest lists. Each student invites one friend; the Brazilians invite an American and the Americans invite a Brazilian. Senior Ana Della, one of the students who organized the lunch, invited Carolyn Duarte, the first friend she met when she moved to the Vineyard three years ago.

When two cultures share a meal, the glass is more than half full — it's overflowing. — Maria Thibodeau

“That’s the whole point of the lunch,” said Ms. Weintraub. “It’s not about random pairings, it’s about genuine friendships that actually exist.”

During the lunch, Ms. Weintraub gave a speech in English, which Ana translated into Portuguese.

Though Ms. Weintraub is the faculty behind the event, it is mostly student driven. The night before, about seven students stayed late after school to decorate the culinary arts dining room, hanging streamers, setting tables and taping Brazilian and American flags to the walls.

A few minutes before the lunch bell, while a pot of stroganoff simmered on the stove (best eaten with rice and potato chips on top), Portuguese teacher Juliana Germani realized they had forgotten mustard. Culinary arts instructor Jack O’Malley’s students were in the other half of the kitchen, cooking up chowder for the Christmas in Edgartown chowder competition. He came to the rescue, with a wide selection of mustards to choose from. Ms. Germani selected French’s.

“Why do you take the worst of what America has to offer?” Mr. O’Malley asked with a laugh.

“Because it has the best taste,” Ms. Germani answered.

As the line began forming outside the door, Brazilian music filled the room and a last minute decision was made to set out brigadeiros (a Brazilian dessert) at all of the tables. A few minutes later the guests arrived and were escorted to their tables, two cultures coming together as individuals who over a meal and conversation became a community.