Teaching Students How to Succeed
I have kids every year who come to me when they’re freshmen. They ask me if I know how they can become a chef. I say, “I know exactly how you can become a chef. Now, are you going to be willing to do the things you need to do to be a chef?” We sit down and we talk about [how] they need to go to their English class, and they need to do well. They need to go to math class, and they need to do well. They need to go to social studies class, and they need to do well. Then they come to my class, and I’ll help them learn the things that they need to get a career as a chef.

As they work through my program, they learn how to use a knife and how to do the different cuts when they’re a freshman or a sophomore in the First Food class; then they move into the Second Food class, and they learn to cut up a whole chicken for the first time—something their mom and dad probably never have done. They learn a little bit about butchering. They learn a little bit about different diets and how vegetarianism is different from the diet that they have. They learn how food fits into their life a little bit in each of those classes.

That’s what education should be. When they move through education, they should be able to see how every class they take fits together. When they come through my program, they can finally put those things together. They see that they needed to learn how to use a knife before they learned how to make their alfredo sauce, before they learned how to make chicken cordon bleu or chicken marsala or brine-glazed pork loin with a marinara.

In my classroom they learn that education matters, and that it’s all connected. Science is connected to what they do. English is connected to what they do. It all has to work together.  I enjoy that part of what I get to teach, because I [teach] an elective. They aren’t required to be there. But when I can help them put all of their education together, all the things that they’ve learned in one day or one semester, and figure out how that’s going to fit into their life and how it all makes sense, then my job is easy after that. It’s just harnessing their energy and making sure that they learn all the things that we want them to learn and that they want to learn.