Have you ever wondered what it takes to make the meals we eat at restaurants? The processes that place in a professional kitchen has always fascinated me, so it was delightful to interview Chef Craig Barnard and learn more about Culinary Arts, his course at M-A.
Culinary Arts is the second level of two classes that Barnard teaches at M-A, with the first being Food and Nutrition. The course is part of M-A’s Career Technical Education program and is designed to teach students about what it takes to be a professional cook. He describes his method as “learn by doing.” Essentially, the classroom is a fully-equipped professional kitchen where students can learn restaurant techniques and proper kitchen etiquette.
A crucial component of the class is how it teaches students to run a business. The students operate a small venture called “Baked by Bears,” where they bake cookies to sell at PAC events and in the library. The hands-on approach and combination of cooking lessons and business practice provides students with a holistic view of making a living in the field. “Baked by Bears” generates quite a bit of revenue for the students, too: “easily $1,000 per school year,” according to Barnard. The students often re-invest the gains into the program, allowing them to purchase “special items to cook nicer items.”
The Culinary Arts program introduces students to more than just baked goods. One of the special dishes that they learn is seafood boil, which Barnard explained is “a typical Southern seafood boil, with corn on the cob and potatoes and shrimp and crab.”
I spoke with a few students who participated in the class, and their impressions of the course were universally positive. According to senior Alex Glotzbach, “Every once in a while chef would do a tasting lab, he would have us try to pair different flavors that you wouldn’t think would go together and see if it worked.”
Senior Melanie Anderson also appreciated the class, and agreed that Barnard was “really great and made every activity creative enough to put your own spin to it.”