SCTCC Culinary Students Cooking Up Success

November 24, 2020

Cooking is one of those skills that are both essential for life, and an art. While some see it as eating to live, others see it as living to eat. 

And that is how first-year culinary student, Alex describes it: “I think of cooking as an art form, with baking being a science. Everyone has their own personal style.”

Chef Jay, the lead instructor of the culinary program has been with the college for 26 years. When he started with the program, he had to create an entire curriculum from scratch. Years later he looks back and comments “I was hired as a food service manager back in ‘95...then I was asked to be a teacher. About a month or two in, I was ready to quit. I had no book, I had no lesson plan, nothing. So I developed a program, and ended up sticking it out.” 

The culinary courses offered at SCTCC cover a variety of topics that prepare aspiring chefs for the workplace and getting a job in the foodservice industry. 

The program covers the following categories:

  • Kitchen Operations
  • Servsafe Certifications
  • Stocks, Sauces, and Soups
  • Intro to Pantry Food Prep
  • Vegetables, Potato, Rice, etc.
  • Intro to Breakfast
  • Basic Baking
  • Basic Cooking Principles
  • Basic Food Preparation principles
  • Garde Manger
  • Social Etiquette

In addition to the courses above, Chef Jay also requires each of his students to complete a 3-week (96 hour) internship, along with general courses to help them understand the workplace better. According to Chef Jay, “I tell students to choose their internships carefully, because 90% of the time, that internship leads to a full-time job.”

Students looking to join the program can either enroll in the one-year diploma program (38 credits) or the AAS degree which takes 2 years to complete (66 credits). Around 80% of the students enroll in the 2-year program. This gives the students a well-rounded understanding of how to run a business, as well as essential cooking skills and practices.

First-year culinary student Eric commented about the program: “[The possibilities] are endless. You can throw creativity into it to do what you want and learn so many different things in so many different ways.”

Each year the culinary students help out with the college’s BrewLash fundraising event. Chef Jay commented, “This year was more controlled. Meals were sold and we got a count. My students did the math and had to figure out how much food to order to make that many meals.”

This helped the students gain practical experience preparing food for a large venue. The best part was there were no leftovers! 

The culinary students also serve lunch on campus every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The menu is based on whatever they are learning that week: if they are cutting steaks in class, then they serve steak that day. This gives students practical experience with everyday cooking, best food serving practices, and using kitchen math to prepare meals.

Chef Jay shared his secret recipe for rainbow couscous. Super simple to make, and it’s a great side dish with any meal. Feel free to try it out!

Rainbow Couscous

  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1 ½ tsp chicken base
  • Dash Tabasco
  • ½ cup of couscous
  • 2 ½ Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp dried dill weed
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup chopped red pepper
  • ⅓ cup of shredded carrots
  • ⅓ cup of chopped green onions
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Dill sprigs for garnish

In a saucepan combine water, chicken base, and Tabasco. Cover and heat to boil. Remove from heat, stir in couscous, cover tightly, and allow to stand for 30 minutes. 

In a skillet melt butter and stir in dill weed, garlic, pepper, and carrots. Sauté until slightly limp. Add green onions and salt, tossing lightly. Stir in couscous and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately. 

If you are interested in learning more about the program, check out the culinary arts page on our website: