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TEACHING AT CULINARY SCHOOLS FORUM Do you love being a Chef and now you want to teach?

Thumb_screen%20shot%202009-12-11%20at%202 christian wa... 324 posts

There are many career paths for a chef to evolve into during their career. Food stylist, food writer, critic, entrepreneur, and oh yes….the instructor. There are always things to consider in a path that you choose. So chefs please share you thoughts on becoming a Chef Instructor.

Thumb_justin_profile_picture CHEFJUSTINB 4 posts

Christian… where do I start with this one? I’m torn.. Every great Chef has a greater Instructor be it in the work place or in the Culinary School.
The First instructor I had in school told everyone in the class that there are only 2 ways out of “The Fire.”
One- retirement community
Two- Instructor

I leave you with this…. I that really where you want to end up? Someone once told me “Those who do, DO… Those who can’t Teach!”

I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to admit I can’t! Thank you to those who teach though I’m a better Chef because of you.

Like I said I’m torn

Icon_missing_thumb ChefPerry 4 posts

Great chefs don’t always make great instructors, but also great instructors’ don’t have to be great chefs. In my view an instructor does not teach some one to cook, they inspire the student and helps them to obtain the knowledge to make them a better chef and person. If being a good chef was only about learning recipes this occupation would be easy. Yet as we all know (because we are all in this great industry,) that there is so much more to being a good chef than just putting food onto plates.

I must however agree to the post above when Chef Justin said “Those who do, DO… Those who can’t Teach!” in some instances. I have met cookery instructors whose food I would not pay to eat! I’m also the first to admit If I was a great chef I would be still working full time in the trade instead of educating (or at least trying to educate) the next generation of chefs. 

I would just like to add that the feeling I get when I see that spark in a students eye when something clicks, is even more satisfying than when I a get great feedback from a satisfied customer.

I’m sure that most of you would agree that there are good and not so good operators in all facets of this industry and to tar everyone with the same brush is akin to stereotyping.

Thumb_tdm1 Chef Tonya 6 posts

I have dreamed of being a Chef since I can remember. I followed my dreams and made goals for myself. I began when I was in High school. I went through 3 years of a Culinary arts Vocational program. when I graduated from High School (Secondary School), I worked in the field. I then decided to go to Culinary School in Pittsburgh, Pa. I loved every single moment of my education. I finished school when I was 21. I worked in the field and started from the bottom, all the way to the top. Being a Chef came natural to me and I never struggled with the profession. 

My main goal was to become an Executive Chef by the time I reached 25 and a Master Chef by 30, well I was an Executive Chef at a big college in my hometown for 3 years and I got married and put my career on hold. i now want to teach, just because, i remember how it felt to find something at the ripe age of 12 and stayed focused on that. I wanted to know everything I could and every instructor I had gave me their knowledge….. I also took a lot in from every single person I have worked with. 

I miss working the line and feeling that rush, but I would love to find a teaching position….. I am still very very passionate about the Culinary World, Who would have thought almost 20 years later I am still very much in love with my career. How many people can say that?

Thumb_screen%20shot%202009-12-11%20at%202 christian wa... 324 posts

Do we have any instructors in our community? Invite them here to this discussion.

Icon_missing_thumb adamttruelove 1 post

Well, let’s see.  Where to begin.  I am currently an exec. chef at a restaurant.  Before that I was an Exec. Sous Chef for a large restaurant group, who had just opened a restaurant in my area.  BUt before that I taught at the French Culinary Institute in NYC.  I found it very rewarding.  There is something to be said in inspiring young chefs- to-be, to want more.  My choice to leave was opportunity and money based.  Most culinary schools determine ones salary on years of experience.  Before my time is done, I will be back to teaching.  I was called chef everyday.  I created and plated all my own food, and had weekends off.  Holidays off!!! It seems a natural choice for great chefs to want to inspire.  This whole idea of " those who can, do….those whole can’t, teach" is only for people who are afraid.  Afraid of being in front of a group of blank canvases.  Hanging on your every word.  Maybe having that much pressure is too much.

Thumb_penn&ian1 MtGambierTaf... 16 posts

Adamttruelove I strongly agree. There is a very big difference between the stress of service and the stress of educating the next batch of chefs. A winemaker once told me that a bad plate of food is often soon forgotten but a bad made wine just keeps on living and re-appearing. Students are a little like that. One bad student that has completed a course can destroy many years of hard work to improve your reputation! Most students hang on your every word, if you don’t know the real answer and just make one up, that answer can haunt you for a long time. If you lie the students will lose respect of you, if that happens you have lost a whole class. One student I had continually made notes through class. Unfortunately I last the class plan for one day and asked the student if I could have a copy of her notes for that day. I found her notes where even more comprehensive than my own detailed class plan, including exact quotes that I had made!
The pay is less than in the trade but the hours are much, much better, it’s a lifestyle choice that after 22+ years in this great industry a decided to make. I still work at least two weekend a month on top of my full time teaching job partly to keep my knowledge current but mostly for the buzz of service

Icon_missing_thumb Shocker 1 post

I have to agree with ChefPerry, and at the same time be in disagreement with you Justin, I have had some great chefs that were AMAZING teachers. I have also had people that can talk theory to no end, and couldn’t cook their way out a paper bag…Our personalities are ultimately what determine whether or not we can teach, not our abilities. I know some great chefs that you couldn’t pay me enough to sit through a class with, because their people skills are sorely lacking. As an instructor myself, there is no greater joy than to see the sense of accomlishment on a student’s face when they “get it”-not just the recipe, or method, but the whole picture, and how we as chefs feed not just the body, but the soul also.

Thumb_penn&ian1 MtGambierTaf... 16 posts

Well said Shocker,


Icon_missing_thumb Frantastic 10 posts

I teach every day – in the kitchen.  Culinary school was fantastic for learning the theory, knife skills, increasing my confidence;however, for me, it’s no comparison to working in the field.  My staff teach me and I teach them.  It’s a 2-way street.  The compliments I receive for a delicious meal are priceless.  My field is somewhat specialized and my pay and benefits – not so great, but they aren’t as important to me as my need to please people with good food with personalized dietary needs and restrictions such as cardiac, celiac, mechanical soft, low salt, low fat, and diabetic, just to name a few. 

Thumb_chef_with_medals1 ChefnGA 3 posts

I looked into going into teaching at a culinary school, but much to my dismay, you now have to have a college degree. I did get a degree from the school of hard knocks. I am a Certified Chef de Cuisine with 30 years of experiance, I thought the certification would be enough to get a teaching job, after all I have been teaching young cooks for the last 20 years, but have had no luck finding a teaching position. What a waste of experiance and yes I can cook quite well.

Thumb_swedish_chef Swedishchef 7 posts

Speaking as a Chef of 30+ years I have been seriously considering going into teaching the skill, I have even talking either a community college or University into starting a program, After all I have been told that given the proper incentive. I could sell an eskimo on the idea that he needs a freezer. I have observed that the schools teach in idealisms and falsehoods. When the students are graduate they have some highend skills, but are not much use to family type restaurants. I have met students that if it wasn’t made for them they lacked the knowledge or had the confidence to make it or attempt to,(all of my kitchens have always had standardized recipes available to my staff). The industry doesn’t need box openers, we need people that know what to do when the box product isn’t available. This is what I would teach my students the basic skills that they need to excel in small & medium restaurants not hotels.

Thumb_039 Jonce 4 posts

All chefs are teachers. They simply must be serious instructors amongst their other duties. Now, choosing your venue in which to teach is another thing. Mine will most likely remain in a working kitchen but my instructors at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis/St. Paul were exceptional. I don’t really want their job, but I am honored to have had them had them as instructors. They had amazing experience and gladly passed on all the knowledge they could, if you only asked.

Thumb_sadie_081 chefgian 3 posts

I have worked in the industry for several years and went into teaching 10 years ago.  I can tell you teaching is the hardest thing I have ever done.  You are not just a teacher…you are counselor, teacher, shoulder, mentor, parental figure, mediator…and the list goes on.  You not only teach and grade…you also do everything you did in the industry.  That being said…as hard as it is, it is also the most rewarding.  I watch my students beam when they perfectly season and grill their first piece of chicken or make an amazing soup from scratch.  While I miss the line and those 125 degree nights, I do love what I do now. 

Thumb_dsc_0427 thewytboy 3 posts

well i come from a family of teachers and professors … i also want to teach people and touch lives of those who really want to learn.. its still a long way for me to go.. until then. this will all remain a dream.

Thumb_socal%20morning%201-20-2011 campuschef 74 posts

I agree with Jonce. All chefs are teachers. You just have to choose; classroom style or hands-on style.
Both have their pros and cons. Myself, I combine both. I actually have a classroom in my facility where I teach saute’, poaching, knife skills and other such basics to my crew. In the end, you teach every day. If you aren’t teaching, you are teaching your staff that you don’t care. We are all too professional for that one.

In regard to the statement of “Those that do DO, those that can’t teach”, When I attended culinary school, the dean of students was a 15 year former exec from one of the major casino hotels in Vegas. To say he couldn’t hold his own and had to go into teaching is like saying that a Porshe GT couldn’t handle the traffic, so it is used for grocery runs. He was excellent as an instructor, but just as sharp as he was in the kitchen, so do not be fooled into thinking that teaching is a easy way out.

Thumb_tdm1 Chef Tonya 6 posts

I have an interview at a college to help in starting a Culinary Program. I am very excited about this opportunity, but I am nervous as well, I have to give a 25 minute presentation on How to hold hot foods at the proper tempature, proper cooing temps and proper documentation. I am not suite sure what they mean by proper documentation, i am asuming that it is proper labeling?

Does anyone have any ideas as to what “Proper Documentation” is? Has anyone else had an interview like this? I would appreciate your help, my interview is next monday! thanks! 

Thumb_penn&ian1 MtGambierTaf... 16 posts

Proper documentation may be taking temps at the start of the cool down time and then again at the end to show how long the product has been in the danger zone (between 65 & 5 Degre c)It may also include ladeling with product name, date, time and name of person that produced the item. If you include as much info as poss then you should have all the bases covered. Use methods such as ice water baths and shallow containers with a large serface area to cool large volumes of liquids quikly.

Good luck for monday

Thumb_tdm1 Chef Tonya 6 posts

thanks so much, I was reading way more into it than I thought…… cheese and rice!!!!! that really helps! you know you walk down the line with your little tablet writing down all your temps and tasting all the food and you dont even realize how important it is…… wowsers!!! lol

Thanks for the luck on Monday, I am excited and I feel I have a lot to offer students, so I hope I get it!

Thumb_penn&ian1 MtGambierTaf... 16 posts

No problem Locusflwer, We are all here to share info and make us all better chef/educaters/people. Go in with confidence, own the room, feel comfertable and do your homework (which is what your doing here), all the best

Thumb_mi Mirelys 2 posts

I have always wanted to teach and I know one day I will be teaching. it
is in my goals. While in Architecture
School I became a mentor
for the beginners design studio classes and in the culinary school I became my
chef instructor assistant during his Chocolate and Sugar Class. One of the most
fascinating things I find about teaching is the magic of discovery, the
satisfaction of bringing into reality your ideas. Seen, touching, experiencing,
tasting, smelling what once was just a sketch or a thought, working in an
environment where you can change someone’s life, encourage the talented to
reach as high as he or she can go just energizes me. Teaching and in
particularly learning from the students new ideas and new trends is
invigorating and refreshing to me.

Thumb_22112008795 sultans 2 posts

it was a great challenge becoming an instructor, not because of the passion for cooking, but the stigma that goes with it, simply u have a proffesional chef with a i.k.a and the c/d rottisierre. vs gentleman with phd"s and doctrates.what worse could there be to face,

the best way i have found, having to deal with this, is by stepping into a conversation and challenging them, believe you-me, it turns heads,taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the industry, heading towards teaching is a good should therefore to trust that chefs instinct that is so rare and be confident and stand the test.

remember chefs are unique beings, a truelluy rare breed.

so all those chefs wanting to take on the teaching path, go for it.


Thumb_screen%20shot%202009-12-11%20at%202 christian wa... 324 posts

Chef Sultans….great add here…thanks!

Thumb_22112008795 sultans 2 posts

hi chef watson.

thanks for the reply, you know having to have read your profile and understanding where you come from , really it comes one to understand that what i have mentioned in the add before, is so should be able to follow his dreams in spite of stigma and fear.i have been a chef  since 1987 and hav etravelled extensively, took part in competitions, opened a few restaurants, being a celebrity on air for 7 yrs currently opening one in saudi arabia, and it has taught me a great deal, one can never take fear for granted because that could be one of the added (so – called) 5 elements of answer to our fellows chefs as to fear,

 "fear, you are only a tool,

you wont get me under, because i am no fool,

 you try to bend my back, you cut me no slack,

 but fear,

 my strength will always be here"

this is what helps get through tough challenges!!!!!!

happy cooking guys and good luck and  have a fab. day regards sultans

Icon_missing_thumb Texas chef 1 post

I never really set out to be a teacher but I have started many young people on the road to cooking and culinary school.  When I find a young person with a love of cooking, I want to impart my love of cooking to him and teach him all my skills and tricks. If I could go back and begin again, I would work more for teaching and probably start my own culinary school.   In a restaurant of course.  The heat will bring out he true strength of the steel.

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TEACHING AT CULINARY SCHOOLS FORUM Do you love being a Chef and now you want to teach?
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