Fifty Minute Classroom

Oct 17, 2017, 22:32

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.

50-Minute Classroom: Teaching How To Prepare to Give a Non-Class Demonstration

Delivering cooking demonstrations to the public and select groups not only benefits others by sharing your and your students’ expertise and talent. More importantly, it also builds and promotes your program’s unique brand. And the strongest advice from Chef Weiner? Keep it simple.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Last month I wrote about giving back to the community. One of the things I mentioned is giving cooking demonstrations. Besides being altruistic, another reason to have you or your students give demos is to promote your program.

When I went to obtain my California Teaching Credential, one of the first things I was taught by my instructors and mentors, Lee and Susan Clark, was that it was critically important to promote your own class. If you don’t—they made emphatically clear—you will be unemployed very soon because of a lack of students. I took their words to heart. When I started teaching the program there were seven students and I was told the program was to be shut down in six months. I brought the enrollment up to 20 people, and 10 years later I am still teaching the same program. I continue to promote, and there is now a several-month waiting list.

So giving demos is a good idea for a variety of reasons. Now, you just have to learn, yourself, and teach your students how to do demos. Like everything else in cooking, the key to success rests with three issues: planning, preparation and practice.

50-Minute Classroom: Volunteering for Young and Old

Give back, says Chef Weiner, and teach your students to, as well. Whether self-serving, altruistic or both, the many rewards—both personal and professional—far outweigh any inconvenience.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Last December I wrote the 12 things that every culinary student needs to know. It was kind of my gift to you. This year I am going to take the completely opposite approach. It is time for your students and you to start giving gifts to others.

A. For Your Students
Volunteering is important for students for a variety of reasons. Foremost, it is just a good thing to give back. At the holidays and throughout the year there are people who need help and would enjoy and appreciate your students’ volunteer efforts.

If being altruistic isn’t within your students’ skills set, then let’s talk about them volunteering for their own gain. First, I have had a number of my students hired while doing volunteer work as other chefs were volunteering or were watching. You can guess what happened. The chefs were impressed with the volunteering spirit, the students got jobs.

Furthermore, volunteering is good résumé value. With so many students coming out of culinary programs at the high school, vocational and college levels, it is important that your students have something (preferably a lot of somethings) on their résumés that separates them from the pack.

50-Minute Classroom: Playing Games

Using games to teach will get both you and your students out of a rut. A round of Hangman, anyone?

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

As teachers we get into ruts. If we are teaching one-month classes, one-semester classes or one-year classes, we tend to do the same thing every month, every semester, every year. Even if it works well, we get bored. When we get bored, the students get bored. When the students get bored, their education and our enjoyment of teaching both go downhill fast.

At the June Leadership Conference of CAFÉ I was able to attend a seminar entitled “You Can Lead Students to the Classroom, but Can You Make Them Think?” It was led by assistant professors Deet Gilbert and Sunil Atreya, both of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. The thrust of that seminar was that in today’s world, standing up and giving a lecture will not get the attention of most students, and even fewer will retain the material. In other words, lecturing to your students in the academic portion of your curriculum is dooming your students and yourself to failure. The seminar went on to cover at least 10 or more different games and formats you can use to liven up your class.

What really hit me like a bucket of cold water about this was that the second article I wrote for “The Gold Medal Classroom,” in March 2009, talked about creating word puzzles, crossword puzzles and other games to get the students thinking and interacting. I even listed a number of websites that had these items available for free. To my horror, I realized at the Leadership Conference that I had gotten myself into a rut and that I was not doing any of these games any more. It didn’t take more than a few moments of reflection to realize that my students absorbed and learned the material faster and more thoroughly when I was using the games. It was also clear that I was having less fun teaching the class.

50-Minute Classroom: Picking Teams

Continuing the theme of helping students work together successfully to better prepare them for real-life employment, Chef Weiner suggests strategic ways to group team members who don’t necessarily see eye to eye.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Last month’s article was based upon a seminar given by Paul Sorgule at this past summer’s Leadership Conference about how students interact, fight and then grow together to become a team.

The two key points of that article were: 1) whether or not students like working in teams, they need to learn how to work in teams to work in the culinary field, and 2) whether they like someone on their team is not relevant, as they still have to work together well.

How teams are chosen will, in large part, contribute to teaching students how to work in a team format. Here are some of the ways to pick teams: