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Items filtered by date: May 2009

Eighteen Students with Sharp Knives

By Allison Shaskan, M.A., CSCE, El Centro College

What do you do when one student takes charge, and the others stand around talking?

I am a chef-educator at El Centro College, a regional two-year community college located in the South. As my culinary program “lives” within a larger college, we admit all students no matter their cooking ability.

This means that on the first day in the kitchen I have 18 students in new uniforms waiting for instruction. Some have worked for years in professional kitchens, some have extensive experience in home kitchens, and some have never turned a stove on to boil water.

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Blame It on the Ouzo

By Albert W. A. Schmid, MA, CCP, CHE, CFBE, MCFE, CCE, CEC, COI, Sullivan University

Or, my big fat Greek dinner during the NRA Show in Chicago.

I discovered Greek cuisine in Lincoln, Neb., at a small eatery called Papa John’s when I was studying at the University of Nebraska. No, this establishment had no relation to the franchised pizza parlor. It was located a few blocks away from campus and came complete with a large Greek family that could have been cast in the Hollywood movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Each member of the entire family had tons of personality. The father and sons ran the kitchen while the mother and daughters tended to the tables and front of the house. The family always seemed to have fun working together in the restaurant. The food portions were as large as the owners’ personalities, perfect for a hungry college student.

One of the reasons I enjoyed eating there was the ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur. There were many nights when I consumed more than one shot of ouzo with my meal. I always enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant. Every meal was a celebration. Since then I have had many Greek meals, and it always invokes memories, feelings and smells of my time in the Cornhusker State and that little Greek eatery.

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Essentials of Teaching Wine-Tasting

By Edward Korry, CWE, CSS, Johnson & Wales University

Wine-tasting not only educates students or young professionals about wine, but also serves as a method to develop their sensory-evaluative abilities and hone precision in thinking and descriptive vocabulary. Wine is a valuable tool for revealing differences in their abilities and taste perceptions from others. They learn whether they are super-sensitive, sweet, tolerant or hyper-tolerant tasters, which will be of critical value in their careers.

The advantage of using wine as a learning tool is that, unlike food, it can concentrate the mind on fewer tastes: sweetness, acidity and sometimes bitterness without the additional complex elements of salt or fat. The subtle differences between one wine and another helps to focus on narrow differences and thereby develops one into a more astute taster. It is essential to have comparative tastings so that students experience the differences between samples.

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Adding Legumes to Your Curriculum

By Colin Roche, MBA, CEC, CCE, FMP, CHE, Johnson & Wales University

These mini- and full-lab exercises will help you teach legumes effectively.

Legumes (LEHG-yooms) are a group of plants that have double-seemed pods containing a single row of seeds. Examples include peas, beans, lentils, soybeans and peanuts. Cultures around the world have used legumes as a staple food for thousands of years. Legumes are nutritious, have a long shelf life, and contribute flavor and texture to a meal. As more and more customers today demand healthful foods with flavor, commercial kitchens are making legumes an important part of their menus.

Legumes come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. There are dozens of types of legumes, each with a different texture and flavor.

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A Lighter Shade of Green: Ecologically Responsible Catering

By Douglas Alley, Johnson & Wales University

Many clients are now choosing to spend their dollars in ways that will have a positive impact on the environment.

Sustainability is not a passing trend, but a real lifestyle that has taken permanent roots. It is our responsibility to nurture the planet for future generations. The move toward the development of eco-friendly businesses is an absolute requirement, not just for the health of the business, but for the well-being and survival of the planet.

In perhaps no other industry is the need for a more ecologically aware business model more acute than in catering. Sometimes called the “Marines” of the foodservice industry, caterers often adopt a “take no prisoners” attitude when staging an event. Every day, all around the country, caterers routinely do the impossible: transforming grassy fields into swoon-worthy tented extravaganzas; converting mediocre rental spaces into the sweet stuff of bridal dreams, if only for a brief moment in time. While the results can be magical, the ecological toll can be staggering.

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Catch the Trade Winds in Your Sails

By Jeff Bricker, CEC, M.Ad.Ed., Ivy Tech Community College

Collaboration is the ticket to successful short-term study-abroad trips.

What happens when a group of Midwestern culinary/pastry students (some of whom have never left their home state) travel to Europe for a two-week study-abroad experience?

Does this sound like a lead-in to a television reality show? Well, this scenario is real, all right, and the results can sometimes be as interesting as popular television reality shows! But great things really happen every summer when a group of culinary/pastry students and faculty chaperones from Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana continue a 20-year tradition of international travel that takes them to France, Italy, Germany or Spain.

The short-term study-abroad trips are a real immersion in the cuisine and culture of the European regions and are loaded with daily excursions to fresh-food markets, vineyards, cheese producers, oyster farmers and many of the artisan food crafters that make the international culinary experience come alive to the students. Also included are classes in the culinary schools of the regions that add an academic element to the international experience. Daily excursions enhance the educational experience with visits to important historical sites that add to students’ cultural awareness, as well.

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USA Rice in the Culinary Classroom

By Andrew Schloss

Education is the mission of the USA Rice Federation, which is committed to supporting the professional growth of culinary students and future chefs. As the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry, the federation is made up of rice producers, millers and merchants—people who work with rice from the ground up and have a passion for providing high-quality products along with information that is reality-based and well tested.

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At-a-Glance Refresher

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

To help the student who’s prepping for an interview, share this compendium of need-to-knows.

One of our key responsibilities as instructors is to make sure that our students can do well in interviews. If they cannot give a good interview, they can’t get a job. I repeatedly work on teaching soft skills to my students on how to interview. I will write about that in the next issue of The Gold Medal Classroom.

Below is a culinary cheat sheet that I give to my students to study before every interview. Now, it probably isn’t useful to just copy it as is, but it might be useful to you to modify it for your students.

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Preparing Students to Change the World

By Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, Kendall College School of Culinary Arts

10 ideas to encourage your students to make sustainability part of their careers.

As educators, our mission is to prepare future culinarians, not only for the foodservice landscape as it exists today, but as we expect it will be in the future. Trends come and go, but sustainability marks a paradigm shift in the way we will do business. The debate over the validity of climate change is over, and the challenge is staring us in the face.

But with great challenge comes great opportunity. Given its size and energy consumption, the foodservice industry can be the tipping point in preserving the world for future generations. To put it in perspective, there are approximately 945,000 restaurant locations operating in the United States. According to the National Restaurant Association Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability initiative. Those restaurants use five times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. Furthermore, with energy costs accounting for 30% of a typical building’s annual budget, it’s about financial sustainability, as well.

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