Apr 27, 2023 | By: Hanky Hazelton

CLC Culinary Arts Students Show Off Cooking Skills by Serving a 4-Course Meal

After having a rough launch at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the culinary arts program at Central Lakes College in Staples is thriving and is helping their students get trained and hired at area restaurants.

The 30-credit program goes for two semesters, starting in the fall and ending in the spring. Instructor Jim Olsen wants students to graduate with very minimal debt and have all the basics down before entering the world of cooking.

Culinary students get knowledge in basic knife skills, identifying flavors, butchering techniques, stylish plating presentations, and baking, where they’ll have the chance to decorate and write with icing.

With it being the end of April, students nearing graduation got to showcase their skills with one final project: putting together a 4-course sit-down meal that they present to the public. Guests were served an appetizer (scallop mousseline with salmon sauce), soup (pumpkin soup with a creme fraiche swirl and toasted pumpkin seeds), entrée (Steak Oscar with pesto gnocchi), and a dessert (deconstructed s’mores with carmel, strawberries, and chocolate).

The program has a lot to offer for learning the art of cooking, but it’s also instrumental in placing a number of students in several restaurants after graduation.

“What they have told us is, it’s advantageous for them to have people coming in, to step up and do a role that’s a little more important than coming right out of high school and coming right off the street to that job,” said Central Lakes College Staples Campus Dean Dave Endicott. “It’s going to be better pay for them as well, but it’s also less work for the resorts, the restaurants, because now they have somebody that comes with a level of expertise and knowledge.”

One student said that from his experience, for students considering the culinary program, there’s an advantage most students don’t realize they get when coming into it.

“This more of like a, you’re getting all the same skill sets of the bigger-picture guys, but you have more time to focus one-on-one with the professors and you raise your skill level that way,” said student Michael Bonafede.

The program is only offered at CLC’s campus in Staples. Graduates receive the ServSafe Food Manager certificate. More information on the program can be found on the CLC website.

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