UT Culinary Blog

Embrace Fall with Chef Greg's Apple Benton B.L.T. Bites

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Sep 27, 2016 11:08:58 AM

Fall is finally here and what better way to embrace the change of season than with a delicious new recipe! Watch UT Culinary Director Chef Greg and Michelle Williams from Totally Living Well demonstrate how to prepare this savory apple-bacon combo on WBIR. If you want to try it for yourself, the recipe can be found below.



Apple Benton B.L.T. Bites

Serves 4


Step One

  • 2 Granny Smith apples freshly cut into wedges
  • 2T golden raisins, chopped fine
  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 4oz Sugar in the Raw
  • 1tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2oz honey
  • 1tsp rosemary, freshly chopped
  • 2oz leeks cut into thin julienne strips
  • Benton Bacon cut into 4 long pieces

Step Two

  • Vegetable oil, cold
  • 12oz Roma tomato concasse
  • 6oz water
  • 2T Agar Agar
  • 12oz yellow tomato concasse
  • 6oz water
  • 2T Agar Agar
  • Microgreens- 8OZV

Step One: Combine apples through rosemary and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool. Place 4 leek juliennes on bacon strips, top with 3 apple sticks each, and wrap and secure with a toothpick.

Step Two: Simmer yellow tomato concasse with water and red tomato concasse with water, keep separate. Add Agar Agar to both hot tomato mixtures and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain mixtures using a fine chinoise strainer. Drizzle tomato mixtures, making large droplets into cold vegetable oil. Keep cold and reserve. Bake bacon wraps for 15 minutes at 350F until crispy and golden brown.

Serve bacon bites with tomato caviar and microgreens. Optional additions could include vine-ripened tomatoes, vinaigrette, or fresh berries.


More Recipes

Trifle of the Pousse Café

5 Salad Recipes That Aren’t Just for Summer

3 Candlelit Dinners for the Perfect Date Night


Cook Like a Pro in 90 Minutes or Less

Spice Up Your Life with These International Cuisine Courses

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Sep 8, 2016 1:19:00 PM

Looking for a way to shake things up in the kitchen? Our international cuisine classes could be the ticket you need to explore the world -- all without leaving Knoxville. You can learn how to master techniques of the Old World or discover an entirely new palate through our cooking classes that span regional flavors far and wide.

Here are just a few of our upcoming international cuisine classes open to culinary enthusiasts of all levels:

sushi_roll.jpgBasic Sushi Preparation

Love sushi but having trouble finding a restaurant that consistently delivers? Take matters into your own hands with this course that will teach you everything from the basics of how to make the perfect sushi rice to mastering the proper flavor combination of the California roll. You'll also get a culinary education about the culture and history of sushi in Japan, as well as a primer on how to use chopsticks without looking like a Westerner.

Interested in this class? Sign up here!


Travels of Southern SpainSpanish_Food.jpg

Want to impress your friends and family with an authentic paella or terrific tapas? Try this Spanish-flavored class that will transport your taste buds to Seville through a mix of regional ingredients and time-honored techniques, like this beginner's tip for handling Mediterranean produce: To peel tomatoes, cut an X in the top, simmer in a pot of hot water for 15 to 30 seconds, and let cool. The skin will slide right off.

Interested in this class? Sign up here!


wine_and_cheese.jpgWines of Beaujolais

We all know that fine dining is about more than just the food. Explore the sommelier's side of your palate with this primer course in French wines of the Beaujolais region. Learn the difference between a Cru and a Nouveau, as well as how to properly pair wines with meals or hors d'oeuvres.

Interested in this class? Sign up here!






You don't have to travel far to get a truly international flavor experience. Learn about cooking techniques from around the globe, and you can bring the world directly into your own kitchen.

Looking for the right cooking class for your diverse international tastes? Visit our website to see our latest classes and be notified when new classes begin.


Cook Like a Pro in 90 Minutes or Less

Why Military Veterans Make the Best Executive Chefs

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Aug 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM


Whether it’s four years, eight years, or 16 years, time spent in military service provides servicemembers with a particular set of skills not seen among average citizens. These skills are especially beneficial to veterans looking to “grab life by the horns,” so to speak, with a hands-on career that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

The culinary industry, in particular, is a field where we see military veterans thrive. Working in the culinary industry gives veterans the opportunity to utilize the physical and mental training they received during their tour of active duty.

For example, military servicemembers are trained to keep cool under pressure and function in stressful environments in a positive and efficient manner. While working in the kitchen can’t compare to field operations, this kind of level-headedness is helpful when rush hour strikes and you’re responsible for accomplishing ten different tasks in a matter of minutes. Read this 3 Military Skills That Will Benefit You in the Kitchen for more military skills that will benefit you in the kitchen.

Military veterans often do well in culinary leadership positions where they can run and manage a food business. The military trains people to accept and discharge responsibility for other people, so veterans often find themselves in leadership positions in the kitchen where they have more opportunities to set good examples, give directions, and motivate other personnel. For this reason, we’ve noticed that military veterans tend to make the best executive chefs.

As an executive chef, you will be responsible for training and managing personnel as well as supervising and coordinating all restaurant activities, including but not limited to:

  • Food consumption estimates
  • Food orders & purchases
  • Recipe selection & development
  • Setting & maintaining quality standards
  • Planning & pricing menus
  • Equipment operation & maintenance
  • Kitchen sanitation & safety
  • Special catering events
  • Culinary demonstrations

If you’re interested in becoming an executive chef or assuming another position in food management, culinary school will allow you to practice your leadership skills in a hands-on kitchen setting while teaching you new ones. To learn more about what the UT Culinary Program will teach you in as little as 12 weeks, click here.


Do you have a vision, but aren’t sure what kind of training
you need to turn it into a reality?
This free guide will help you take the next step.

10 Things You’ll Never Learn Watching the Cooking Channel

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Aug 23, 2016 3:00:00 PM


Believe it or not, there are over 300 different food and cooking shows currently airing on national television. If you’re a foodie like the rest of us here at the UT Culinary Program, you’re probably familiar with a number of them and have picked up a couple of tips and tricks just by tuning in to your favorites.

While The Rachael Ray Show may teach you a thing or two about a popular cooking technique and Hell’s Kitchen can certainly provide examples of what not to do as a chef, watching the cooking channel won’t necessarily improve your performance in the kitchen.

Attending a well-rounded culinary school is a great way to not only improve the way you prepare meals, but also gain experience in managing restaurant, food truck, and catering operations. Here are 10 fundamental things you’ll never learn watching the cooking channel but will learn in a quality culinary program:

  1. Food safety & sanitation
  2. Food consumption estimates
  3. Food orders & purchases
  4. Food & labor cost controls
  5. Prepping for scale
  6. Menu planning & pricing
  7. Catering event management
  8. Supervising kitchen personnel
  9. Setting & maintaining quality standards
  10. Kitchen equipment operation & maintenance

Let’s not forget basic restaurant survival skills like keeping cool under pressure, teamwork, and flexibility! Read 7 Must Know Tips to Avoid Failing Chef School for more about what you need to know to survive in the kitchen and in culinary school.

Television shows -- even food television -- are a source of entertainment and do little more than provide inspiration. Even shows that don’t focus on kitchen drama and teach basic cooking skills (like Giada at Home) don’t provide adequate insight on how to become a better chef. In fact, Many of the celebrity chefs we know and love, really aren’t “chefs” at all and have no formal culinary training or kitchen management experience. Rather, they have caught America’s eye as incredible cooks by being self-trained, self-motivated, and very talented. Check out this blog post to find out which of them actually went to culinary school.

The UT Culinary certificate program is a full-time, 12-week, 400-hour course designed to prepare you for an exciting career in restaurants, hotels, catering, and sales. Register for a free information session to learn more.

My Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School

How You Can Earn a Chef’s Salary in 12 Weeks

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Aug 18, 2016 2:00:00 PM

There are some common myths and misconceptions out there about how to be successful in the food industry. Despite what you may have heard, you don't need a fancy four-year degree, a backbreaking apprenticeship, or a reality TV show to get a good culinary education and start reaping the benefits of becoming a good chef.

From food trucks to gourmet catering, online bakeries to in-home personal chefs, the culinary landscape is changing -- and so are the training and education programs that give people the know-how to become a certified chef. If you've ever thought seriously about taking the plunge into the kitchen, read on to learn more about how to find the best culinary program for you.

You don't need a four-year college degree. Some of the best-known culinary schools in the country offer big-ticket degrees that aren't necessarily practical. Two-year associate degrees in the culinary arts typically cost between $35,000 and $54,000, while a four-year bachelor's degree may be as expensive as $109,000 altogether. Even diploma programs can last six months or more, which is a long time for anyone to spend out of work or away from their kids.

There’s a shorter option. Like the longer and more expensive options, our formal culinary certificate training program offers hands-on training in the kitchen. We cover all of the essential topics, including sanitation, safety, cooking techniques, baking classes, food prep, and presentation and plating. However, we do it in just 12 weeks.

You can start making money right away. As opposed to an apprenticeship, which can last for years and consist of minimal (or no) pay, a certified chef can start earning income in the culinary world right away.

Investing in a 12-week culinary program can provide benefits for years to come. As a pastry chef, you could earn an average of $43,123 per year (or $46,547 when working in a hotel). Sous chefs make around $39,478 ($42,906 in hotels); a chef de cuisine, $51,114 ($55,405 in hotels); and an executive chef takes home around $65,983 annually  ($81,039 in hotels).

Read: A High Paying Kitchen Job is Not Just a Myth

Whether you're looking to start a new career or find your first one, a quality culinary education could be your ticket to a bright and fulfilling future. Find out more about the UT Culinary certificate program by registering for a free information session.


Download Chef Greg's Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School


Chef Greg Demonstrates How to Build the Perfect Trifle of the Pousse Café on WBIR

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Aug 16, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Join Chef Greg and UT Culinary student Rob Petrone as they demonstrate how to build the perfect Trifle of the Pousse Café on WBIR. Watch the video clip here. If you want to try it for yourself, the recipe can be found below.


Trifle of the Pousse Café

Serves 4

  • 1lb Mascarpone cheeseTrifle_of_the_Pousse_Cafe.png
  • 6oz honey
  • Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, small diced
  • 1 cup fresh kiwi, small diced
  • 1 cup fresh Blueberries
  • 2T fresh mint chiffon
  • 2 cups Filo dough cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 6oz sugar, granulated
  • 3 shots of liquors, chef’s choice

Gentle blend Mascarpone, honey, and lemon juice with fine whip. Reserve, keep cool. Combine strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and mint. Reserve, keep cool. Melt butter. On a sheet pan, spread out Filo dough, drizzle butter, sprinkle sugar, and bake at 325°F in oven for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown and crisp. Reserve at room temperature.

Building the trifle:

  1. Layer 2oz of cheese mixture with pastry bag in tall glass.
  2. Top with 1 shot of liquor.
  3. Top with 2 tablespoons of berry relish.

Repeat three times, then generously garnish top with crispy Filo dough.


More Recipes

5 Salad Recipes That Aren’t Just for Summer

3 Candlelit Dinners for the Perfect Date Night


My Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School

7 Vegetable Cuts Every Cook Should Master

Posted by Chef Greg Eisele on Aug 9, 2016 1:00:00 PM


“Show me seven perfect, unique cuts and you’re our next Executive Chef.”

All that’s standing between you and the career you’ve dreamed about is a basket of assorted vegetables. Your performance during this skills test could be the difference between being sent to the kitchen and being sent home. So, how would you do?

If you’ve had very little to no culinary training, probably not very well. In fact, many people who have never experienced culinary school know only basic vegetable cuts, such as rough chopping, dicing, and slicing. How you cut a vegetable greatly affects a dish’s cooking time and its final outcome. In order to be more versatile in the kitchen, here are seven vegetable cuts you should master:


Rough_Chopped_Vegetables.jpg1. Rough Chop

A rough chop is the most basic vegetable cut. It produces pieces that are “roughly” the size of a large dice (3/4 to 1 inch) without the precision. If a recipe does not specify how a vegetable is to be cut, chefs will use a rough chop to halve and quarter to make the pieces smaller. Onions, bell peppers, and squash are vegetables commonly rough chopped, especially when preparing kabobs and stir fries.



2. DiceDiced_Onions.jpg

Dicing vegetables helps food cook more quickly and looks more. A dice is a cube cut made by slicing a vegetable vertically and horizontally to achieve a checkered pattern.

  • A large dice produces pieces measuring about 3/4 inch.
  • A medium dice produces pieces measuring about 1/2 inch.
  • A small dice produces pieces measuring about 1/4 inch.

Most recipes that call for vegetables usually ask for them to be diced; potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers are among the most common.


Minced_Garlic.jpg3. Mince

A mince is essentially a very fine chop that when performed on a vegetable (e.g., garlic) will resemble a coarse paste. Minced vegetables dissolve quickly and are perfect for cooking broths and sauces.




Sliced_Tomatoes.jpg4. Slice

Slicing a vegetable typically results in flat, round vegetable discs. This makes layering and stacking vegetables on top of each other easier, like when making pizza or lasagna. The thickness of the slice will vary depending on the recipe. For example, you’ll use a thin slice when making fresh potato chips and a thicker slice when making eggplant parmigiana. 




Julienne_Potatoes.jpg5. Julienne

Often referred to as the “matchstick cut”, a julienne is used in recipes like coleslaw, spring rolls, and wraps when vegetables need to be thin and elongated. A julienne cut produces pieces measuring about 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch x 2 inches. A fine julienne cut produces pieces measuring 1/16 inch x 1/16 inch x 2 inches.




Brunoise_Carrots.jpg6. Brunoise

The brunoise is essentially a julienne cut cubed. It produces pieces measuring 1/8 or 1/16 inch depending on the size of the julienne.






Chiffonade_Herbs.jpe7. Chiffonade

A chiffonade is most often used to slice leafy green vegetables or herbs that are to be stirred into a recipe or used as a garnish. To properly execute a chiffonade, neatly stack leaves that are roughly the same size roll the stack from stem to tip. Slice the roll lengthwise several times to create beautiful ribbons.




Knife skills and safety are two lessons you’ll learn during the early weeks of earning your culinary certificate through the UT Culinary Program, but that’s not all. Check out this blog post for more information about the program or register for a free information session here.


Cook Like a Pro in 90 Minutes or Less  

Knoxville Mercury Applauds UT Culinary Students for Creating Impressive Dishes

Posted by Chef Greg Eisele on Aug 4, 2016 1:00:00 PM


Recently, our culinary students were challenged to cook and serve a gourmet Latin feast to 40-60 guests after only seven weeks of training. As both a chef and an educator, I want our students to excel for not just the love of food, but for the sake of education. Participating in an intense hands-on culinary training program like University of Tennessee Culinary’s 12-week certification course is the best way to do so.

To set the bar even higher, I invited Knoxville Mercury’s food connoisseur, Dennis Perkins, to taste and critique our performance.

For the main course, guests had the option of choosing between pork belly tacos with charro beans or a beer-mopped strip steak served with Mexican street corn. For dessert, dulce de leche cheesecake and pineapple rum empanadas were served.

This catering event was an opportunity for me to throw real life kitchen experiences at our students to teach them dig deep, think on their feet, and keep a level head. Would they crash and burn or rise above the flames?

Let’s see what Perkins thought.

It was in fact a pleasant dining experience—for the record, my steak was beautifully done. The meal itself was a success with bold flavors, balanced seasoning, and attention to textural variation. There was certainly evidence of the team’s training in the menu itself with a thoughtful mix of levels of service difficulty—a balance of items that required immediate cooking with things that could either be finished easily or quickly plated.

Although the entire meal was nice, there was one thrilling moment for those of us who chose cheesecake for our last course. It was a lovely presentation that featured an exceptional salted pecan crust, but what made it so very nice was a light garnish of Mexican oregano—its light citrusy tinge gave the sweetness a lift, and the meal a very nice finale.

Read more about his experience in the article he published here.

Whether you’re fresh out of highschool or ready for a career change, the UT Culinary Program is designed to give students the tools they need become successful chefs and successful businesses owners. As the only ACFEF Quality Program in Tennessee, this is our pledge. To learn more about our 12-week certification program, register for a free information session online or call Pam Quick at 865-974-3181.


Want to open your own food business?

FAQ: What You Need to Know Before Applying to Culinary School

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Aug 2, 2016 12:00:00 AM


Food trucks. Gluten-free cooking. Farm-to-table restaurants. Fermented foods. These are just a few of many reasons cooking class and culinary education attendance has exploded over the past several years and continues to be a great career path for people of all ages and backgrounds.

If you're a foodie interested in culinary education, then you may be wondering what pre-qualifications you need to meet before you apply. Check out these frequently asked questions for more information.


What kind of educational background do I need to begin pursuing culinary education? Do I need previous college experience?

Every culinary education program has its own unique set of requirements, but most only require a high school diploma or GED to begin and some don’t require either.

What kind of work experience would be helpful before enrolling in a culinary education program?

If you're interested in starting a career in the food industry, you have to start somewhere. Culinary education programs are meant to teach you the skills you need to become a great chef, so no previous kitchen experience is required (although it doesn’t hurt either!) The most important thing you need is a passion for food, people, and learning.

How can I finance the cost of my culinary education?

Financial aid varies depending on the culinary institution. The UT Culinary program offers several different financing and payment options which you can learn about here. If you’re eligible for education benefits through the GI Bill, you can apply them towards your culinary certificate with little to no out of pocket cost to you.

What kind of job can I get after I graduate?

When you graduate with a culinary certificate, the world is your oyster! Become a food truck chef-owner, open your own catering business, or work your way up the corporate ladder as a sous chef. Discover more food business opportunities and the average salary for each in this blog post.


The UT Culinary Program offers a 12-week certification course that includes hands-on cooking and business management training. Our students are challenged throughout the duration of the program with real life challenges, such as catering a large dinner party or running a food truck during lunch rush. Upon graduation, you’ll have the foundation you need for a successful career the food industry. Learn more about our program by signing up a free information session or contacting Pam Quick at quickp@utk.edu.


Download Chef Greg's Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School


A High-Paying Kitchen Job is Not Just a Myth

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Jul 28, 2016 4:09:56 PM


If you want a job that pays big bucks, flipping pans in a kitchen doesn’t seem like the commonsensical way to get there. But it can be.

When you think about what working in a kitchen looks like, a line cook who makes $10/hour is probably the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re looking to make a sizeable salary, you’re probably not very impressed. However, a line cook is only one of the many positions in a kitchen and still one of many more than can be found outside a traditional restaurant environment. If you love to cook, but are concerned that a job in the food industry will keep you from adequately providing for yourself and your family, keep reading. While there are certainly an abundance of low-paying kitchen jobs, a high-paying kitchen job is not just a myth. Here are some you might be interested in:

  • Restaurant Owner / Operator
  • Food Truck Owner / Operator
  • Executive Chef
  • Executive Pastry Chef
  • Personal Chef
  • Catering Chef / Manager
  • Food Stylist / Photographer

Click here for a brief job description and estimated salary for each position.

For most kitchen positions, the more time you spend doing what you do, the more money you’ll make. But what if you can’t wait 10-20 years for a salary that’s really only a couple thousand above entry level?

Two words: culinary school. There is something to be said about formal culinary education, and it’s not just the diploma you receive upon graduation (although that’s pretty nice too). Culinary school teaches you not just how to cook, but how to chef. It takes everything you might learn sweating for five years in corporate kitchens and condenses it into two years (or even just 12 weeks). Not only that, a well-rounded culinary school includes lessons in business management, food cost reduction, order inventory, menu planning, how to hire a great kitchen staff, and other things you would never be able to learn working your way up on the line.

With formal culinary training, you’ll be able to open your own restaurant, food truck, or catering business immediately after graduation. If the corporate world suits you better, you’ll have the skills you need to start as a sous chef, which can lead to numerous other high-paying career paths.


Find out what other factors can determine your salary as a chef in this blog post.

A kitchen job isn’t right for everyone, but if you love to cook and enjoy these other things, then it might be right for you. Don’t let the fear of poor pay keep you from pursuing your dreams. Learn more about how the UT Culinary Program can pave your way to a successful culinary career.


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