New to teaching Culinary Arts

2
0
Joined Sep 2, 2018
Started my first CTE Teaching Job, but the program has zero resources. I am hoping that another CTE instructor can help me out with lesson plans. I have over 30 years in fine dining, but am struggling with laying the courses out in the proper format. Any help would be great.

Thank you,

David
 
47
63
Joined Nov 28, 2014
Hello Chef Fouts!

Welcome to Culinary Arts!

I just started my 13th year as a Culinary Arts instructor. I'm presently employed by the Clark County School District in Nevada. As the 5th largest public school district in the United States and with strong program that includes close ties to the food service industry given all of the Michelin star restaurants in Las Vegas, it would not surprise me if CCSD was the single largest employer of Culinary Arts teachers in the United States.

Textbooks: Unless your classroom is new, there must surely be some textbooks in the class. If these textbooks are accompanied by a teacher's edition, the TE will list instructional units by chapters. Each chapter will list lessons in sequence. Please be aware that the textbook will most likely NOT incorporate lessons for hands-on instruction in the kitchen. That would be something that you as the instructor would have to interject ... but at least this would give you a framework for building lessons.

I would strongly recommend that you start instruction with all classes regardless of level with food safety and sanitation. Since all Culinary Arts kitchens are subject to random inspections by the county health inspector, the health inspector won't care what level your students are. The inspector will only care whether or not the health code is being followed regarding food safety and sanitation. ServSafe has some free instructional resources at this link.

This is where textbooks could be useful. Most culinary textbooks include some sort of unit on food safety and sanitation. Some Culinary Arts classrooms even have ServSafe textbooks.

What should you teach? What you teach will depend upon where you are. Each state has a state education department. The education department will have a website that lists all of the instructional standards that have to be taught for any subject. Here is a link for the instructional standards for Nevada. These standards may be downloaded as PDF files. Please note that these are not lesson plans. They're instructional goals that you will need to work towards for each level of students you have.

What do you have to work with? If I were you, I would take a quick inventory of your kitchen. How many work stations do you have? Do all of the workstations actually work? Double check each station to make sure that the stove, oven, microwave, and mixer (assuming you have all of these), actually work. Double check that the hot water for each sink is actually hot, that the garbage disposal works, and that the sinks actually drain. If they don't you'll need to contact whoever is in charge of facilities maintenance to put in a work order for repairs.

The number of students you have for each class divided by the number of working work stations will give you the number of students for each group. In general, I recommend groups of 3-4 students. If you have significantly more than 4 students for each station, you should talk to the counseling department about the possibility of transferring some of these students out of your overcrowded classes. It will after all reduce the quality of hands-on instruction if you wind up having 7-8 students assigned to each station.

In the event that something like this has happened and if counseling is unwilling or unable to transfer some of these students elsewhere, your best bet would be to divide each of the larger classes into two groups. Have one group in the kitchen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Have the other group in the kitchen on Wednesdays and Fridays. Plan on teaching a non-hands on class to both sections on Monday. You will also have to plan on written seat work for the students who are not in the kitchen on a given day.

District Support: If you're working for a large school district, check with the school's district office to see if there is a district CTE office. Some districts offer after hours workshops for novice educators who pursued alternative certification routes for teaching. These workshops often include learning how to use district required grading and attendance software, how to write lesson plans, how to manage a class etc. Some districts may even assign you a mentor as a "go-to" person for work related questions.

Funding: Check with the school's office manager to find out what your culinary budget is. My budget is typically divided into two sections. I start the year with district funds along with a Federal Perkins grant. In my district, both of these funds have to be expended before the end of the 1st semester. The 2nd semester is typically supported by student lab fees. Find out what the lab fees are for your program and start keeping track of who has paid and who hasn't. Although most instructors don't like playing lab fee police, you're going to have to press the students to get their lab fees paid otherwise you won't have funding to buy culinary supplies.

As with working in the food service industry, Culinary Arts teachers have to buy food from approved suppliers. Approved suppliers have a different meaning in Culinary Arts because these are generally only vendors who have recognized the non-profit (tax exempt) status of your program.

For example, in my neck of the woods, I'm only allowed to shop at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. Both of these businesses recognize my tax exempt status and I'm not taxed on items like hand soap or foam plates. Other supermarkets like Safeway and Smart and Final do not recognize my tax exempt status and I am barred from using the school's credit card at these locations.

BTW, once you know what your budget is, I strongly suggest that you keep copies of all receipts so that you'll know to the penny how much you'll have remaining in your budget. Knowing how much you have will affect what you can afford to teach.

Any work related expenses that you make out of pocket should also be documented. keep the receipts for these to deduct on your 2018 income tax as a work related expense. I typically deduct the cost of my shoes, trousers, chef coat, and toque. I also deduct the cost of specialty food items that I couldn't buy at one of my school's approved vendors.

I hope I've been able to give you some useful starters. Feel free to ask me questions by posting replies to this thread.
 
2
0
Joined Sep 2, 2018
Hello Chef Fouts!

Welcome to Culinary Arts!

I just started my 13th year as a Culinary Arts instructor. I'm presently employed by the Clark County School District in Nevada. As the 5th largest public school district in the United States and with strong program that includes close ties to the food service industry given all of the Michelin star restaurants in Las Vegas, it would not surprise me if CCSD was the single largest employer of Culinary Arts teachers in the United States.

Textbooks: Unless your classroom is new, there must surely be some textbooks in the class. If these textbooks are accompanied by a teacher's edition, the TE will list instructional units by chapters. Each chapter will list lessons in sequence. Please be aware that the textbook will most likely NOT incorporate lessons for hands-on instruction in the kitchen. That would be something that you as the instructor would have to interject ... but at least this would give you a framework for building lessons.

I would strongly recommend that you start instruction with all classes regardless of level with food safety and sanitation. Since all Culinary Arts kitchens are subject to random inspections by the county health inspector, the health inspector won't care what level your students are. The inspector will only care whether or not the health code is being followed regarding food safety and sanitation. ServSafe has some free instructional resources at this link.

This is where textbooks could be useful. Most culinary textbooks include some sort of unit on food safety and sanitation. Some Culinary Arts classrooms even have ServSafe textbooks.

What should you teach? What you teach will depend upon where you are. Each state has a state education department. The education department will have a website that lists all of the instructional standards that have to be taught for any subject. Here is a link for the instructional standards for Nevada. These standards may be downloaded as PDF files. Please note that these are not lesson plans. They're instructional goals that you will need to work towards for each level of students you have.

What do you have to work with? If I were you, I would take a quick inventory of your kitchen. How many work stations do you have? Do all of the workstations actually work? Double check each station to make sure that the stove, oven, microwave, and mixer (assuming you have all of these), actually work. Double check that the hot water for each sink is actually hot, that the garbage disposal works, and that the sinks actually drain. If they don't you'll need to contact whoever is in charge of facilities maintenance to put in a work order for repairs.

The number of students you have for each class divided by the number of working work stations will give you the number of students for each group. In general, I recommend groups of 3-4 students. If you have significantly more than 4 students for each station, you should talk to the counseling department about the possibility of transferring some of these students out of your overcrowded classes. It will after all reduce the quality of hands-on instruction if you wind up having 7-8 students assigned to each station.

In the event that something like this has happened and if counseling is unwilling or unable to transfer some of these students elsewhere, your best bet would be to divide each of the larger classes into two groups. Have one group in the kitchen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Have the other group in the kitchen on Wednesdays and Fridays. Plan on teaching a non-hands on class to both sections on Monday. You will also have to plan on written seat work for the students who are not in the kitchen on a given day.

District Support: If you're working for a large school district, check with the school's district office to see if there is a district CTE office. Some districts offer after hours workshops for novice educators who pursued alternative certification routes for teaching. These workshops often include learning how to use district required grading and attendance software, how to write lesson plans, how to manage a class etc. Some districts may even assign you a mentor as a "go-to" person for work related questions.

Funding: Check with the school's office manager to find out what your culinary budget is. My budget is typically divided into two sections. I start the year with district funds along with a Federal Perkins grant. In my district, both of these funds have to be expended before the end of the 1st semester. The 2nd semester is typically supported by student lab fees. Find out what the lab fees are for your program and start keeping track of who has paid and who hasn't. Although most instructors don't like playing lab fee police, you're going to have to press the students to get their lab fees paid otherwise you won't have funding to buy culinary supplies.

As with working in the food service industry, Culinary Arts teachers have to buy food from approved suppliers. Approved suppliers have a different meaning in Culinary Arts because these are generally only vendors who have recognized the non-profit (tax exempt) status of your program.

For example, in my neck of the woods, I'm only allowed to shop at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. Both of these businesses recognize my tax exempt status and I'm not taxed on items like hand soap or foam plates. Other supermarkets like Safeway and Smart and Final do not recognize my tax exempt status and I am barred from using the school's credit card at these locations.

BTW, once you know what your budget is, I strongly suggest that you keep copies of all receipts so that you'll know to the penny how much you'll have remaining in your budget. Knowing how much you have will affect what you can afford to teach.

Any work related expenses that you make out of pocket should also be documented. keep the receipts for these to deduct on your 2018 income tax as a work related expense. I typically deduct the cost of my shoes, trousers, chef coat, and toque. I also deduct the cost of specialty food items that I couldn't buy at one of my school's approved vendors.

I hope I've been able to give you some useful starters. Feel free to ask me questions by posting replies to this thread.

Thank you Chef,

The CTE resources focus more on recipes and soft skills than the concepts and techniques. I am trying to figure out how to maximize the 50 minutes of class time. I saw your article that discussed it, what was your thought process going from week 1 - 18, to determine which items to cook?
 
47
63
Joined Nov 28, 2014
18 weeks is one semester. Surely you're teaching a 2 semester program?

Again, I'd start by visiting the state instructional standards for Culinary Arts. A crude way of mapping out what you need to teach is to identify the instructional units that need to be taught. Divide the units among your instructional weeks to see how many lessons you would have for each unit.

My Culinary I class starts out with an introduction to food safety and sanitation. I also teach students how to read a recipe and how to use culinary measurements i.e. the use of solid and liquid measuring cups, the use of measuring spoons, and how to zero balance and use a mechanical scale. I then administer a test. Students who pass this test and who have also paid their lab fees are subsequently admitted to the kitchen.

I kick off the semester with baking. Baking is cost effective. Most students like baked goods and successful completion of these products require students to use exact measurements.

I start with chocolate chip cookies. We spend a couple of weeks on cookies. As with most instructors, I build upon prior knowledge so a dropped cookie like chocolate chip leads to other dropped cookies like oatmeal or snickerdoodles.

The first day in the kitchen is always a learning experience. I have recipes at each station and require students to sign in to that station so that I know who was there. The students will need time to learn the kitchen layout. Some teachers (usually home economic teachers) gather all tools and supplies for their students. The way these teachers organize their kitchens also reflects a home economics background with all tools needed for each station being stored at each station in cabinets and drawers.

I don't do this. I have centralized locations for small wares and tools are stored in bus bins on wire shelving. I also don't portion most ingredients. Students are expected to get their own supplies. I have flour and granulated white sugar in big 50 gallon covered bins. Other ingredients eggs and margarine are in a refrigerator. Still other ingredients like baking soda, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla are on a supply table next to the flour and sugar. The only thing I ever portion with the chocolate chip cookies are the chocolate chips themselves otherwise some students would be snacking on these chips and/or helping themselves to extra portions which could then short change other classes.

After 2 weeks of baking cookies during which time the students have learned to use mixers with paddle attachments, we move on to brownies and cakes. Depending upon how the students have been doing, I either go small and have them produce cupcakes or we make a two layer chocolate cake. Regardless of which direction we go, the students learn to use a whisk attachment. They also produce a made from scratch butter cream frosting.

We then move on to making pies. Again depending upon how the students are doing, we either make a simple apple pie with a bottom and top crust or if I want to challenge the students, I teach them how to make a lattice top.

I usually finish my baking unit about 5 weeks into being in the kitchen. We work on a yeast dough and usually produce cinnamon rolls, though I've also taught students how to make braided dinner rolls.

Although I do give written test, I'm also a great believer in hands-on production test. I usually allocate 2-3 days for a baking test. Using what they have already learned especially about the proportion of flour to fat to sugar in the production of cookies, students are given a shopping list of ingredients and are challenged (by groups) to create a cookie recipe. On day two of this test they produce the dough and if time permits they produce the cookies and present them. If they need extra time, I usually have a third day during which they may produce and plate their products for grading.

By this time we're in mid-October and I switch over to breakfast foods. Breakfast foods are interesting because while some of the products (like pancake batter) are made by each group, I require individual students to produce at least one product.

As with baking, breakfast foods build upon prior knowledge. I start off with scrambled eggs. If students can make a perfectly yellow scrambled egg, they can then make a French rolled omelet. If they can make an omelet, they can make a souffle omelet.
We also spend a day on fried eggs ... sunny side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard. Since students usually eat whatever they make and eating fried eggs by themselves is boring, I usually let them make toasted bread which they either butter and toast on a griddle pan or toast in an oven.

Other breakfast food products include: French toast, pancakes, crepes, home fried potatoes, hash brown potatoes, and potato pancakes. If my budget permits, we also tray bacon and cook it in the oven as a side dish for another product. My students usually ask if we can also make waffles but since I don't have any waffle irons, I've always had to say no.

Some lessons I've also tried in the past have been the production of granola bars (which ties in nicely with the baking unit). Students have also learned how to use a blender by making smoothies.

In December I often switch back to baking. For the previous three years my principal has had Culinary Arts produce some 2,400 assorted Christmas cookies for the children of a nearby elementary school. The kids come to our high school to see a performance in our theater and when they come out we distribute cookies and milk.

Pictured below are some sugar cookies we made last year.

Santa Cookies.jpg

These sugar cookies were cut using a turkey cookie cutter. The white beard was made with butter cream frosting and shaved coconut. The stocking cap has a mini-marshmallow bottom rim with red (peppermint flavored) frosting along with a large marshmallow for the tip of the stocking. The flesh was made using royal icing with a pink jelly bean nose, sliced chocolate chips for the eyes, and a piped pink tongue.

Since I don't have any stand mixers or commercial quality ovens, it literally took us about a week and a half using all classes to produce and portion (in plastic wrap with red ribbons) the 2,400 cookies. This basically ran me through December which was the end of our 18 weeks.

2nd semester started off with mother sauces and derivatives. Since I don't like wasting food, each sauce was paired with the production of a food item. For example, a veloute sauce was then turned into a stir-fry sauce for use with stir fried chicken and vegetables that was enjoyed with steamed white rice. A tomato sauce became a Marinara with spaghetti and meatballs. A Bechamel became an Alfredo Sauce.

Other 2nd semester instructional units included soup, sandwiches, and salads.

Last year I built upon my local network and the executive chef and one of his sous chefs from a local resort hotel came to school to judge a unit test. After completing a five week unit on mother sauces and derivatives, each group of each class was randomly assigned a mother sauce to produce. Each group was also given a list of ingredients that they could order. As with my other tests, the students had to create a recipe using any of the ingredients on the shopping list. They had one day for prep and one day for production and plating. The challenge was for students to make a derivative sauce along with an entree or side dish which then had to be plated and presented for grading.

It was a hoot. Not only did this test require students to use all of the skills they have learned in this class but they also had to work on their time management. Since food safety and sanitation are also worth 50% of any group's grade, some groups lost points for various violations which included (but were not limited to) failure to properly date/label food being refrigerated overnight, failure to properly clean a workstation, forgetting to wash a drained sink etc.

Some of the students were surprisingly creative and the two visiting chefs were quite impressed with the skill level exhibited by most students.

Since I'm a great believer in fostering an educational community, I use my cell phone to take pictures of student products. I don't take pictures of students themselves since this would be a violation of district policy unless I had written parental permission. The best pictures are always included in a monthly Culinary Arts newsletter that I email home.
 
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47
63
Joined Nov 28, 2014
I should also mention that while the food service industry always has a target market, as a chef instructor, your target market is your class. While the state standards have told me what I have to teach, HOW any of us teach these standards are up to the individual Culinary Arts instructor.

In general, I like having students produce foods that they're likely to eat. Since my culinary background is that of casual dining and comfort foods, that's what I like to teach.

When working with yeast breads in my baking unit, I could for example have taught students how to make a foccacia bread or a challah ... but since I work in a low income area, I've gone with foods that the students are more likely to eat which is why I usually have them work with cinnamon rolls. They also like working with pizza and if my time permits, I usually have students make a pizza during our instructional unit on mother sauces and derivatives. Although this tends to be a repeated lesson since the students will have already made spaghetti with Marinara Sauce, it's a nice way of tying a lesson back to the baking unit from the previous semester.

Last year instead of making a pizza, I actually had the level I students make a calzone which was a lot of fun.

A lot of the kids refrigerated their product and then came and got them for lunch the next day. The other students oohed and ahhed over their products, which was really great because novice cooks need to build upon their self-confidence and having friends and acquaintances badger them for "just a taste" was a really good overall experience.

I must admit that I love my job. Now that we're three weeks into the school year, we'll be in the kitchen 4 days a week throughout the rest of the year. The aroma of what we cook or bake always wafts through the school ventilation system and the sight of envious (and sometimes drooling) teachers and students passing in the hallways is loads of fun for the culinary students.
 
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