Mayo's Clinics

Aug 17, 2017, 16:28

Mayo’s Clinic: Mise en Place

An understanding of “putting in place” is one of the most important skills for culinary students to learn and practice in becoming professionals. Says Dr. Mayo, proper mise en place is actually composed of three parts—all of which do double duty in the kitchen and dining room.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

In the last “Mayo’s Clinic,” we completed a three-part series on using out-of-class learning experiences such as interviewing, structured observation and shadowing. This month, we will talk about a core issue in culinary education: mise en place.

Mise en place—literally, the phrase in French means “putting in place”—has become a personal and professional discipline for chefs. It structures the way they work in kitchens and, for many of them, how they organize and structure their lives. There are even articles such as “For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef”published in the NPR blog, “The Salt,” that point out how useful the discipline can be in life.

As we teach our students to learn and practice mise en place, it might be useful to remember the three dimensionsof mise en place: physical, intellectual and emotional.

Physical Mise en Place
One of the primary foundation skills we teach new culinary students involves the practice and importance of organizing their stations in a kitchen before they start to prepare food. It is a matter of both arranging the equipment and the ingredients since both are critical to successful cooking.

Mayo’s Clinic: Shadowing Professionals

The third installment in a series on effective professional-development activities performed by students outside of the classroom.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed how to assign observations conducted outside of the classroom and how to make them helpful in expanding our students’ education. This month, we will discuss shadowing individuals, another way to enhance the professional development of our students through encouraging learning outside of the classroom.

Obtaining Permission
If you want students to shadow a professional, it is important to consider whom you want them to shadow and what you want them to observe. You might have in mind the work of a chef in a certain type of restaurant, a maître d’hôtel or hostess in a fine-dining restaurant, or a purchasing agent for a hotel with several food and beverage outlets. If you know these individuals and want to set up the shadowing experience, it will be a lot easier on your students.

If you ask your students to make the arrangements, however, they learn a great deal more about making appointments and conducting themselves well with professionals. Even if you want your students to make the appointments, you might want to develop a list of local chefs and other culinary professionals who are willing to be shadowed and then share that list with your students. It can work well any way you choose; just consider what structure and level of assistance make the most effective learning opportunity for your students.

Mayo’s Clinic: Structured Observations as a Learning Activity

Many students are not used to conducing structured observations and might not know what to look for and how often to record behaviors. The more explicit you are about how they should conduct the observation, the more likely it will be an effective learning experience.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed the art of using interviews as an out-of-class activity, and this month we will examine using structured observations as an outside-the-classroom activity, as well.

Good chef-instructors provide carefully developed demonstrations of everything from culinary fundamentals to complex technical skills. While these in-class activities are valuable—even essential—to a good culinary education, there are a range of ways to learn from observation.

Reasons for Using Observations
Encouraging students to learn from watching demonstrations and observing professionals has been part of the hospitality industry for decades, if not centuries. In the culinary arts, students learn a great deal from observing chefs in action and noticing the way in which they practice their particular skills. There is also magic in demonstrations set up on the spot to teach something that students clearly have not learned and need to review. However, demonstrations outside of class have value, too.