Guest Speakers

Dec 17, 2017, 13:27

Guest Speaker: Taking the Time to Appreciate What We Do

As cooks, we exist to express ourselves, learn and work together as a team and produce some amazing art that people in the dining room will eat, smell and enjoy.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

To some it may be a job, a means to an end. Yes, there are those who work in kitchens simply to pay the bills. This is not true of the people with whom I strove to work and hired for the kitchens in which I was privileged to work.

When you stop to think about it, there is something truly magical about working in a professional kitchen. I have often said that most serious cooks are frustrated artists—individuals who have this innate artistic ability that is simply looking for a vehicle of expression. Some are writers, painters, sculptors, bloggers, musicians or even poets. Few are outgoing enough to have an interest in the live performing arts, so their goal is to find a place where they can be expressive behind closed doors. Ah … the kitchen, what a perfect place.

Once they find their way into that cross between the cleanliness of a surgical room and intensity and heat of Dante’s Inferno, they are hooked. Just think of the advantages for the artist: an environment where every day you get to paint on your canvas (the plate), use a plethora of exciting raw materials, appeal to every human sense simultaneously, earn a paycheck, work with other driven artists, learn from a teacher (the chef), and receive instant feedback for your work (although many cooks could care less as long as they feel that the work is an expression of who they are).

Guest Speaker: Understanding the Persistence of Low-Income Students in Postsecondary Education

First in a series on the adversities experienced by low-income students in both secondary and postsecondary education.

By Dr. Paul DeVries

It has long been accepted that tertiary education is a necessary endeavor for both students and society, and though tuition is increasingly becoming more expensive, remuneration and life opportunities continue to outweigh the initial fiscal investment.

In contemporary society, one that has shifted from a production- to knowledge-based construct, postsecondary education and degree attainment is now almost requisite for matriculation from lower- to upper-socioeconomic classes. This is a sentiment supported by President Barack Obama, who through the Graduation Initiative 2020 sought to increase college graduation by 50% by 2020. Unfortunately, the current postsecondary framework prohibits open and equitable access, and one that is largely delineated by socioeconomic class.

Guest Speaker: Focus on Fundamentals

guest_march13Le Cordon Bleu graduates 13,000 students a year. As this author reveals, the biggest change among U.S. schools involves teaching interpersonal skills so that successful grads know what’s going on all over the business.

By Tristan Navera

Whether they be aspiring young cooks or experienced and refined restaurateurs, people involved in the profession today are finding that working in a restaurant has drastically different demands than it did five or ten years ago. To the faculty at Le Cordon Bleu, the largest international hospitality institution in the world, these changes mean formal culinary education is more helpful than ever.

Back to Basics
Culinary education has always been essential for its teaching of ground-level cooking skills, says Chef Edward Leonard, Certified Master Chef, Le Cordon Bleu vice president of culinary education and corporate chef for Le Cordon Bleu North America.

Guest Speaker: The Hands of a Chef—the Ultimate Tool

guest_june12Almost 25% of the motor cortex of the human brain is dedicated to the hands. Yet as chefs, says this former president of a prestigious culinary school, we take better care of our knives.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

I have been giving lots of thoughts to my tool kit lately. Like many chefs, I have a plethora of knives, forks, cutters, pastry tips, strange new gizmos and the like. My tool kit (if I brought everything with me to the kitchen) would require a two-wheel cart to drag it from location to location. Instead, I usually bring a handful of knives in a small tackle box.

Unlike some of the young “chefs in training” who have $300 Japanese knives, mine are pretty modest. Keeping an edge on the knife is the only real important factor in determining how well a knife cuts.

As I look at this arsenal of cutting equipment it suddenly came to me that the knife without the hand is pretty useless. This made me really start to wonder in amazement at the versatility of the human hand and how it truly is the most important tool in a chef’s kit.

Guest Speaker: Above-the-Fold Restaurant Marketing

guest_jan13Physical structure and location are no longer as important as the ability to promote a good food product through both traditional and innovative means. Beyond pop-up restaurants, touch-screen ordering and food trucks, what’s next on the horizon?

By Douglas D. Stuchel, MAT, CHE

The restaurant business has traditionally relied on word-of-mouth advertising as a method of marketing and driving repeat business. Usually, this exchange has resulted directly from conversations between friends/acquaintances who have recently dined at a particular facility.

We are, however, rapidly becoming a society that uses such mobile applications as Urbanspoon, Foodspotting and OpenTable to guide us to restaurants based on the opinions and recommendations of people we do not know and, most likely, will never meet.

It used to be said that if you had a bad meal at a restaurant you would tell approximately 10 friends about the experience. Today, a bad online review can reach hundreds of potential customers in real time, influencing their dining decision and immediately impacting a restaurant’s bottom line.