Culinary Arts Instructors: The Doorway to Your Education

by Olivia Tacelli
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 8, 2011

culinary arts instructorWhen choosing your culinary degree program or the classes at your culinary school, do some research on the faculty. Their level of training, knowledge, experience and teaching ability can enhance or diminish the quality of your education.

Qualities to Look for in an Excellent Culinary Arts Instructor

Whether classically trained from France or self-taught in the California culinary arts scene, your instructor should have high-level experience in the food industry. Someone who's traveled extensively, owned and operated their own business and is a member of a national food organization such as the American Culinary Federation has the experience and credentials to guide your culinary education.

Although exuding a strong passion for food and displaying great knowledge of skills and techniques are vital, culinary instructors should also be competent in the other half of food service: managing staff, controlling costs, handling the finances, following trends and marketing concepts.

While it's significant if your culinary arts instructor has won awards and competitions, it's not a requirement. A chef can be brilliant and creative but lack the skills necessary to be a good teacher. Excellent culinary instructors must not only know how to incorporate the oil drop by drop into an aioli without breaking the sauce, they must also be able to effectively transfer their knowledge to the students by:

  • Giving clear directions
  • Providing constructive criticism
  • Using strong verbal and communication skills
  • Challenging and motivating students
  • Creating a atmosphere of learning, responsibility, and mutual respect

How to Research Culinary School Instructors

Many culinary schools provide biographical and professional information about their instructors online. Reading a successful cookbook or book about the history, philosophy, or culture of food written by a faculty member could give you some insight about their experience, perspective, and style. You may also ask to speak to students who have taken classes with the teacher whom you are researching.

Some say that a good teacher can make or break your education. Don't take any chances. Learn as much as you can about your instructors and make the most of your culinary degree program.

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