Think Tank

Dec 17, 2017, 13:34

Think Tank: Separating the Sizzle from the Steak

In curriculum development, although enrollment-management departments like to promote courses that concentrate on attractive ancillary skill sets, insufficient dedication to teaching strong foundational abilities will negatively impact student employability and success.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Marketers have long understood that promoting what excites people is the best way to sell a product. The classic mantra has been: “The sizzle sells the steak.” This can be problematic when the steak is sacrificed for the sizzle in an effort to increase sales. Eventually, the customer will become dissatisfied with the results.

Colleges have adopted this classic marketing strategy over the past few decades with significant investments in physical plant and amenities that are far removed from the primary mission of delivering a valuable education. This has, in some cases, even crept into curriculum development.

Think Tank: A Different View of Grading in Culinary Education, Part II

There should be no room for variance from a standard of expectation among all stakeholders—employers, faculty, parents and the students themselves. To ensure that culinary grads meet acceptable skill and aptitude standards, Chef Sorgule suggests employing a “passport.”

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

The first question is, “What are the critical skills that will allow students to progress within your program and reach a level of success on internship and after graduation”?

Although there are numerous core competencies that set the stage for “learning” and the ability to adapt to various situations, there is a specific grouping of more tangible competencies that are essential in building “employability” aptitudes in kitchens. If planned correctly, these aptitudes can provide the setting for the other core competencies within a curriculum.

These critical skills should be drawn from a collaborative process of involvement including faculty, industry chefs and bakers, alumni and the students themselves. Knowing the expectations of these constituencies is the foundation for building a curriculum and system of evaluation that will develop confidence and lead to student success.

Think Tank: A Different View of Grading in Culinary Education, Part I

As culinary educators we have a unique opportunity to view student assessment differently—in a way that measures the ability to “demonstrate understanding” vs. the ability to memorize.

Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

From the day we first enter the educational system in the United States we are introduced to a method of measurement that establishes a feeling of success or failure, winning or losing, those with potential and those without. My beacon for leadership and management, Edwards Deming, viewed this as one of the most significant problems that faced American economic strength from the 1950s till current times.

The American system of education has, to a large degree, been based on telling students what they should know, relegating them to memorizing facts and then testing them on their ability to repeat that information. Successful memorization equals better test scores; better test scores equals a person with potential. Or does it?

Think Tank: Teaching or Training—Choose a Side

As educators, we cannot not ignore what consumers of education seek. So why do many in education assume that teaching and training are mutually exclusive?

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

The more I researched for this article the more frustrated—and, at times, angry—I became. It appears that there are still many in the field of education who believe teaching and training are mutually exclusive.

To some, the term “training” was not even part of the larger umbrella of education. It was somehow beneath the concept of educational development. In a letter to the editor of the National Forum: Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Spring 2000, Robert H. Essenhigh of Ohio State University states: “There is another major pressure coming into universities, and particularly state universities. It is the increasing insistence—particularly from state governments (with the associated control of the money)—that students, when they leave, must be able to walk into some job without any further training.” He continues: “… universities are not in the business of training. Their business is educating.”

Think Tank: The Most Important Question Is “Why?”

Change is challenging, but necessary for growth. When striving to be the instrument of positive change, a successful, simple way to intercept every reason given for resistance is to utter the single word, “Why?”

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Understanding that students learn differently today, the industry we serve requires evolving skill sets, and the impact of technology provides interesting alternatives to our established methods of delivery places educators in a position to think change.

Change is a concept that draws a good deal of conversation and a multitude of “how to” theories. When I checked in with, there were more than 17,000 titles listed regarding the concept of change management. Everyone talks about change, yet the reality is that no one truly embraces the concept.