Fifty Minute Classroom

Jun 27, 2017, 10:24

50-Minute Classroom: The “First 50” Index

Chef Weiner lists his first 50 articles written for CAFÉ’s “The Gold Medal Classroom,” for the benefit of readers.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

This article is dedicated to Ms. Terry Jones of Gallup high School in New Mexico. At the June 2014 CAFÉ Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City, she sat down next to me and said, “Adam, I print out each of your articles and keep them in a notebook on my desk. I made an index, and before I teach a new subject I re-read the appropriate article.”

Could anything be more musical to my ears?

Toward the end of 2008 I was contacted by Brent Frei and Mary Petersen asking if I would be interested in writing the regular editorial department, “50-Minute Classroom,” for CAFÉ’s “The Gold Medal Classroom.” I told them that I would do it temporarily for a few months until they found a permanent columnist.

Teaching with Puzzles

Crossword and word-search puzzles can be fun, effective tools for familiarizing students with important terms.

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

We all get in a rut. Line cooks start turning out dish after dish, caring less for the quality because they have done it over and over again. Customers go to the same places and order the same thing, not because they are afraid to try something new; they are just stuck on their tracks like a street car. Teachers have the same problem, and when we do, the students turn on their I-pods and tune us out.

I am always looking for new ways to teach the same old thing. New tricks to pull out of a hat. One of the things that I have found is the very effective use of puzzles in teaching.

Occasionally, I start a class with a word- search puzzle with all of the terms I am
going to cover in the class. I end the class with a “test” of a crossword puzzle using the same terms. It is, I have found, incredibly effective. The best part is that there are many places on the Internet where you can create puzzles for free.

Teaching Presentation in 50 Minutes

One thing that separates professional cooks from their moms is how they present food. Here are five things students should remember when plating

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

Students new to cooking go through three stages of trauma. First, they worry about making enough food; second, they agonize on how the food tastes; and finally, they stress about how the food looks. Much of the presentation pain comes from most of the new generation of cooks experiencing “presentation” as bags of fast food in a car seat and “plating” by ordering at the mall’s food court.

I have found the best way to minimize the pain of the third stage is to tell students not to prepare anything until they have in their minds (or better yet, a drawing on paper) how the final plate will look.

Students think this is strange. They feel that if they start cooking, the plating and presentation will fall into place. I explain that if I asked them to build a car, they wouldn’t just pick up some screws, tires, sheet metal and glass and start hammering. They would first have a picture of the finished car. To build a car or a plate of food takes a picture and a plan.

50-Minute Classroom: Teaching Essential Skills

Are you dooming your students to failure by not focusing enough attention on helping them find and keep jobs after graduation?

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

I hope you will endure a bit of self-promotion. I was asked by Mary Petersen of CAFÉ to lead a roundtable discussion at the upcoming Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City on the importance of teaching life skills and job skills to culinary students.

For those of you who have read my articles for a while, you know I adamantly believe that unless you teach your students job-searching skills, skills to keep the job, and basic life skills you are dooming them to failure. I have written a number of CAFÉ articles on this very subject:

1.     “Interview Skills,” March 2011

2.     “Help Your Students Keep Their Jobs,” May 2011

3.     “Teaching Students How to Get a Job, Part I,” June 2012

4.     “Teaching Your Students How to Find a Job, Part II,” July-August 2012

5.     “12 Things for Students to Know,” on how to work in a commercial kitchen, December 2012

6.     “Teaching the Value of ‘Real’ Networking,” May 2013

7.     “The 10 Hardest Things to Teach Young Culinary Students,” July-August 2013

8.     “Working in Teams Needs to Be Taught,” September 2013

9.     “Volunteering for Young and Old,” December 2013

50-Minute Classroom: Look for the Open Door. It Is There

As the term comes to a close, Chef Weiner shares a commencement speech he delivered to graduates who were not culinary-arts students. In it, he dispensed with niceties to instead offer a generous helping of reality.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

If you are a regular reader of “50-Minute Classroom,” you know I believe our job as culinary teachers is not to merely teach cooking. Our job is to use cooking as a tool to help our students succeed in the world. In fact, at CAFÉ’s 10th-annual Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City next month, I am hosting a roundtable discussion on the importance of teaching students the essential combination of life and job skills.

In January I was asked to be the lead speaker at a graduation ceremony for a halfway-house program in my county because of the success I’ve had with teaching and getting jobs for people. Although I have spoken at numerous events about food and teaching, I have never spoken at a graduation other than for culinary students. I spent some time talking with my wife, and I came up with what I wanted to say. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t a “rah-rah you did great” speech, but a speech on reality.