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Cooking up careers

GCC offers real-world opportunities in food service through internships, on-campus restaurant.

November 06, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph,
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

The scent of baked bread mingled with chopped onion and celery in the kitchen of the Los Robles building on the Glendale Community College campus.

It was 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and students in the Advanced Food Preparation class were completing the dishes for the weekly luncheon at the Culinary Arts Department's restaurant. The theme was Florribbean, which combined the tastes of Florida and the Caribbean islands.

The entrees were jerk chicken with pineapple chutney, coconut curry mahi-mahi or stuffed chayote squash.

Teams of four students were placed at stations throughout the room. Some were frying up the yucca fritters, while others created the sunshine aioli dipping sauce made of garlic, salt, black and cayenne pepper, mayonnaise, annatto oil and lime juice.

At another station, student chefs were chopping celery, red onion, red and green bell pepper and parsley for the black-eyed pea salad, which would become the backdrop for lean slices of smoked pork loin.


Anush Nalbandyan was cutting up tropical fruit to top the coconut rice pudding.

"Wednesday is my exciting day," she said. "I want to make it so the customers will like our cooking and come again."

Members of the second-semester advanced food preparation class worked alongside first-semester students in the Basic Food Preparation class.

The advanced students function as the leads because they have more experience, said Andrew Feldman, culinary arts department chair.

Students start with the preparation work on Monday and the dishes are completed Wednesday mornings.

The purpose of the course is to give the students a hands-on experience, he said.

"Real-world skills demand real-world practice, so I set the restaurant up the way they would work in a restaurant," he said. "They need to be ready on time. If they don't show up, it's like not showing up to work on time. There are consequences. So, if they want to be professionals, this is a good start."

One of the benefits is that the cost of taking a culinary arts course is lower at the community college level than at a private culinary arts school, which can cost upwards of $50,000.

"We are giving a similar experience for 5% of the cost," said Feldman, who added that his students have gone on to successful careers in the field.

A chef has a huge responsibility compared to a cook who makes the food to order following the same recipes each day. A chef is not only responsible for the food coming out of the kitchen but the buying, sanitation, menu writing and menu costing.

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