Fifty Minute Classroom

Apr 28, 2017, 22:39

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.

50-Minute Classroom: The Rest of the Science

Combined with last month’s article from Chef Weiner on the basic science behind critical processes in the kitchen that all culinary students should understand, the following 10 precepts truly sum up any student’s “necessary science.”

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Two months ago I raised the debate about teaching cooking science to students. Last month I wrote part one of what I personally think are the principles of science that should be taught to beginning culinary students. Here is part two:

50-Minute Classroom: Science Your Students Need to Know

For starters, temperature and heat are not the same thing. When is convection mechanical, and when is it natural? And is food cooked by radiation harmful? Chef Weiner explains why all culinary students should understand the basic science behind critical processes in the kitchen.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Last month I raised the debate about teaching cooking science to students. My personal opinion is that there are a few science principles students need to know:

1. The only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn. I realize that this is not technically cooking science. However, more and more pressure is being foisted upon the foodservice industry to help solve the obesity crisis. Students must be taught that sooner or later, they, their families and the customers of where they work must pay the piper when it comes to calories—and that this is a matter of personal responsibility.

50-Minute Classroom: Do You Need to Teach Science?

Chef Weiner’s dad has chemical-engineering degrees all over his wall, written hundreds of articles and flown around the world to advise companies, yet his cooking was never as good as that of Weiner’s grandmother, who only made it through the second grade.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

“Food is love.”
Culinary instructor Adam Weiner

“Cooking is a mistake, baking is a science.”
—Elihu Kittell, chef for the County of San Mateo and longtime friend of the author

“Cooking takes advantage of many basic science principles that apply in the kitchen and throughout the universe. Knowing these principles will enable you to perform endless culinary experiments, and to view the world through the eyes of a scientist.”
Page 7 of The Epicurean Laboratoryby Tina Seelig,1991

In January 2013 I tackled the controversy of whether culinary instructors need to emphasize technique or recipe. Please see my 50-Minute Classroom articles on Reading and Writing Recipes, Braising, Baking, Sauté, Steamingand Grilling.