Lesson of the Day: ‘A Fast, Frugal Track to a Cook’s Career? Community College.’

Featured Article: “A Fast, Frugal Track to a Cook’s Career? Community College.” by Priya Krishna

In response to larger culinary schools closing their doors and an increased demand from restaurants, several community colleges are developing state-of-the-art culinary programs on their campuses.

In this lesson, you will step inside some of these culinary programs and experience a behind-the-scenes look at culinary school. Then, you will conduct research to learn the steps necessary to pursue the career of your dreams.

What do you know about the work of a chef in a restaurant? Do you ever watch competitive cooking shows or follow recipe accounts on TikTok? Have you ever worked at a local restaurant or do you enjoy cooking at home for family and friends?

Watch this video about what it’s like to cook in a top-rated restaurant in Los Angeles:

  • What are Joseph Johnson’s responsibilities in the restaurant where he works?

  • What were Mr. Johnson’s first experiences cooking at home as a child and working in a restaurant as a teenager? How did they help him to get to where he is now?

  • How is Mr. Johnson continuing to develop his skills and pursue his dreams?

  • Do you relate to anything Mr. Johnson said? Do you have a dream or passion for a future career?

Read the articleand then answer the following questions:

1. What draws students to programs like the one at Northern Essex Community College? What appeals to you about the program?

2. What has happened to culinary schools in the last decade? Why might someone choose to go to one of the big-name culinary schools?

3. What are some of the advantages of learning to cook at Northern Essex Community College or any of the other community colleges mentioned in the article?

4. What limitations do some culinary programs at community colleges face? How might that affect opportunities after graduation?

5. The article mentions that some people see a stigma attached to community college. Do you feel as if people in your life look down on community college or see it as inferior? Why do you think this is? What do you think it would take to change that belief in your community and elsewhere?

What is your dream job or career? What steps do you need to take to pursue that career? What skills do you need on the job?

Spend some time researching your dream job. Be sure to answer the following questions:

  • Do you need a degree, license or certificate to do this job? What does it take to obtain that certification?

  • What skills are necessary to land a job like this? What will you need to know about the job to be successful?

  • Who is successfully doing this job? Learn three things about that person’s career path.

  • What is one step you could take today to get closer to that career? For example, could you interview someone currently working in the field? Can you apply for an internship or take a specialized class?

Finally, share your findings with your peers by creating a slide show, one-pager or poster with facts about the job and career path. You can make your project visually appealing by including photographs, drawings or quotes from people who are in this profession.


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