The University of Tennessee’s Culinary & Catering Program has turned many novice cooks into exceptional chefs since it opened in Knoxville in 2013.
While not every graduate has the same dream, there are certain qualities every graduate shares. From the way they think about food to the way they interact in the kitchen, these qualities make our graduates better chefs, managers, and more well-rounded people.
Our Graduates Know How to Solve Problems & Make Decisions Quickly.
Our program teaches students how to think on their feet and do so with confidence. Chefs make countless choices throughout their day and most of them are responses to situations that just fell in their laps.
Being able to weigh the pros and cons and determine a solution in a few seconds is necessary when working in a fast-paced environment.
Brandon Hill, one of our most recent graduates, explains how important it was for him to keep a level head when grilling multiple steaks during one of our live catering event challenges:
That was something that caught me off guard at first—the volume of different temp items. If you have grilled chicken, it’s gonna be grilled chicken at all times. But a steak is a hard task to handle,” he says. “That was one of the lessons that we learned really quick tonight. When the ticket runners come, that’s when it becomes real confusing, and you really have to hone down and use the knowledge that you’ve gained to make sure that you’re sending out a medium or medium rare steak by look, by feel, by temperature (Knoxville Mercury).
A significant part of good decision making is also remaining cognisant of your surroundings and always being prepared to solve problems should they arise. Communicating clearly—understanding what others say and explaining yourself well—is essential to building and leading a strong team and accomplishing your food business goals.
Our Graduates Understand That Having an “All for One” Mentality is Crucial to a Kitchen’s Success.
To borrow from The Three Musketeers, an “all for one and one for all” mentality is greatly valued in the restaurant world. A kitchen is like a machine, and in order for everything to run smoothly, all the cogs and wheels must be well oiled and maintained properly. Sometimes, additional maintenance and a little extra oil is needed when a machine is required to work extra hard.
When a fellow chef on the line accidentally skips a ticket or is struggling to keep up, we teach our students that their first instinct should be to jump in and help out. Making sure their customers have a more than satisfactory dining experience should be their primary responsibility, and supporting one another in the kitchen is the only way that can happen.
Our Graduates Bring Everything They Have to the Table with a Positive Attitude.
Working in a kitchen is not for saps. That’s why our training is hands-on and packed with live catering events, so our students can get a taste of what it’s really like to be a chef. In an environment where expectations are high, tension builds and frustration can manifest several times. However, we teach our students how to remain collected during moments of chaos so they can keep their heads clear and lead their team well.
Maintaining a positive attitude with sore feet and burned hands can be hard, especially when standing in a hot kitchen. Our graduates know that words of encouragement can go a long way, and creating an uplifting work environment during the most stressful times is imperative to the overall health of any food business.
The UT Culinary & Catering Program offers a 12-week certification course where students who are interested in opening their own restaurant, catering business, or even a food truck can acquire the cooking and business management skills they need to succeed at entrepreneurship.
Students are trained in a special classroom designed for culinary education where they are taught by over 15 professionals including: educators, chefs, caterers, beverage experts, restaurant owners, scientists, and managers. Classes are intentionally small to maximize personal attention and students gain hands-on experience in multiple working and test kitchens.
Students are also given the opportunity to explore what it’s like to run their own businesses and are challenged to plan, produce, and serve their own function in live settings in preparation for a real work environment.
Those who qualify will have the opportunity to take advantage of a mentoring network that is available through partner chefs and past graduates. The UT Culinary & Catering Program also helps those interested achieve further accreditation through the American Culinary Federation.
To learn more about how the UT Culinary & Catering Program can help you start a new career, register for a free information session or call Pam Quick at 865-974-3181.