Teaching Tips

Jun 14, 2021, 20:29

San Antonio, TX

02 September 2009
  • “Create Your Café”
  • Group students and have them create their own establishment. As part of the assignment they would have to:


  • Create a menu with cost
  • Create a blueprint-type design for the café and its interior
  • Select a name for the café
  • Create a slogan
  • Determine tools needed from bowl to tables to ovens, etc.
  • Design uniforms
  • Each group then makes a food item (dessert, entrée, sides, etc), beverages are provided. This project usually takes 1 ½ weeks to complete
  • For a free teaching kit and video on Food Born Pathogens go to http://www.foodsafety.gov/~fsg/teach.html Click: free supplementary curriculum. Fill out the order form and it’s FREE. This teaching kit is called “Science & Our Food Supply” and is produced by the FDA and is excellent.
  • On the first day of class start the introductions by saying: “My name is Mary and I eat mushrooms in Maryland” then the next person will introduce them selves by saying their name, followed by a name and a state beginning with the same first letter and repeating all the people who have gone before them. In the end YOU repeat each persons name and what they have said. By the end of this game everyone is smiling and amazed they remember everyone.
  • Teaching students about the role farming and ranching play is essential to understanding food sources
  • Plant raw peanuts in conjunction with a lesson on how/when the plants grow, farming costs, etc.
  • Make home-made peanut butter – do taste comparisons with brands
  • Make African recipes that use peanut butter as protein source
  • Add peanut butter to basic yeast bread dough in place of -shortening/margarine/butter
  • Discuss food allergies – dangers
  • Have a farmer who cultivates peanuts come as a guest speaker
  • On the first day get student excited about a pastry course by lining the tables with parchment paper and putting out labeled samples. The ones I use are: whole wheat, pastry, bread and plain flour; baking soda and powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc., fine and Kosher salt, granulated, powdered, crystallized sugar. This is great for the students to see and identify each ingredient and surprising so many students will say “I didn’t know this is what cloves etc. look like”
  • I use the professional skills that I learned at the CAFÉ workshop in 2002 to make an impression on my students on the first day of school. I dress up in my uniform (hat and all) and greet the students at the door looking like a chef. They always comment on the hat!!
  • I do a knife skills demonstration the first day by doing onion cuts and making French onion soup and onion rings.This sets the tone for the entire semester. The students learn from the beginning that this is going to be a hands-on class.
  • Divide students into groups of three or four. Give them a basket full of various ingredients i.e.: exotic fruits, grains, vegetables, etc.. Let them decide which food groups they belong to. Another idea is to do it by ethnicity.
  • My culinary students wanted to practice serving customers other than our faculty and staff. They started volunteering with our local food service company and helped serve various events held at colleges and our local professional team events. Eventually our 18 yr old students got certified and were given a food booth at our professional arena. Students, parents, and staff members worked the booth at most games and we made 10 to 20% profit for our class groceries and field trips. Hard work but a great learning experience.
  • At the beginning of each semester I compose a newsletter. The newsletter informs families, school and guidance personnel of program highlights and upcoming events such as open house night. I also include short articles about grading policy, uniforms, community service projects or student organizations. Photos and graphics help to make the newsletter more attractive. It doesn’t have to be more than 1-2 pages. It is a lot of work but a great public relations document.
  • Use local chefs from hotels, restaurant and colleges as guest speakers. Take field trips to local specialty type grocery stores. Encourage students to attend career day events at local colleges. Participate in contests sponsored by local businesses and/or colleges. Get involved with local organizations that promote networking for the teachers of culinary arts.
  • When a student misses a lab it is mandatory that they write an alternative lab assignment. The ALA is a typed 3 page paper over whatever the lab assignment was (e.g. salads, breads, etc.) using an article found on the CAFÉ Website. They must also cite all sources.
  • Equate the growth cycle of bacteria to a teen’s un-chaperoned party. Lag phase (word gets out that (name) parents will be out of town). Log phase (all friends and friends of friends are told and all types of people show up at the house). Stationary phase (all food is eaten, house in trashed and the police are called). Death phase (parents arrive and you are dead).
  • To prevent waste: if you have bananas left over from a recipe, throw them in the freezer. When you have enough for another recipe take them out and use them. The flavor is really intense
  • Have your students develop a menu for an ethnic country. This is a mid-year project and they are also required to research this country. This can be done as a group of 2 student because they also have to come up with ideas for front-of-the house décor such as table décor, napkin fold, color themes, etc..
  • First day of school we present students with a questionnaire. First year students are asked such questions as what do they expect to learn in culinary class or what are their favorite foods. The are asked to identify from a list of words which ones are vegetables or fruit, etc. Second and third year students need to answer “what is mise en place, garde manger, what is a roux”, etc.
  • For a senior project each student invites two guests of their choice to a dinner they have prepared. They work in teams of three and must do everything from prepare the meal and table to serve the meal.
  • Have students participate in a job-shadow for a day in a local hotel’s kitchen
  • Pair high school culinary arts students with younger school children to help teach them how to cook. They prepare simple snacks and speak to them about nutrition, safety and sanitation. In turn, they learn more about these subjects because they need to study these areas for presentation.
  • Have your county heal inspector visit the class at the end of a sanitation unit. He goes through and inspects the kitchens with the students and questions them. It is a good review before their test.
  • Students prepare meals donated to local meals on wheels program – also reinforces sanitation practices.
  • As an introduction to a cheese unit, I do a mystery sampling of cheeses.
  • Take magazines and cut out components of a simple salad and make a collage out of it. Effective and efficient way for students to learn.
  • Beginning in November each year my class operates a restaurant where my students serve the faculty every Thursday. We start on Monday of each week planning each meal, ordering on Tuesday, prepping on Wednesday, preparing and serving the meal on Thursday then Friday is evaluation day. We always write the students name on the menu board for the item they are responsible for and the faculty is asked to compliment the student chefs directly when appropriate. It’s amazing what a self-confidence booster this can be.
  • Whenever you make tamales place the corn husks in the dryer, it removes all the threads, etc. then place them in water to soak. It saves a lot of time.

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