UT Culinary Blog

UT Culinary & Catering Program Takes First Place at the March of Dimes Signature Chef Gala Competition

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Nov 18, 2016 12:23:46 PM

We are thrilled to announce that Chef Greg Eisele, Director of our Culinary & Catering Program, won first place at this year’s Signature Chef Gala Competition in the two categories of Buffet Presentation and Flavors with his menu of Blackened Seafood Fondue.

This event was a great success and featured 15 different local chefs who served over 400 guests with their unique dishes.

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For over 20 years, the Signature Chefs Auction Knoxville has brought together top local chefs showcasing their culinary masterpieces, a generous sampling of fine wines, entertainment and a lively auction featuring one-of-a-kind packages. This event helps raise important dollars for the March of Dimes, pays tribute to the culinary excellence of local chefs and caterers in Middle Tennessee, and is geared towards people who enjoy fine dining, fine wine, auctions and entertainment.

The UT Culinary & Catering Program is proud to support local non-profit organizations by hosting catering events as training opportunities for our students. For more information on what we do or how to get involved, please contact us.

Why You Should Turn Your GI Bill into a Culinary Certificate

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Nov 16, 2016 3:19:24 PM

 

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The GI Bill was introduced by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to help ease the transition from combat to civilian life for military veterans by providing higher education benefits and tuition coverage for licensing and certificate programs. For veterans interested in pursuing a culinary career, the University of Tennessee’s 12-week catering and culinary program meets the GI Bill requirements, so any veteran eligible for GI Bill benefits can register tuition-free.

For many veterans, culinary school is a great option because it utilizes the critical thinking and leaderships skills you’ve already perfected while on duty. Working as part of a team, remaining level-headed in stressful situations, and thinking on your feet are a few examples of how you are already a strong head chef. Now you just need to learn how to cook like one!

During your time in the UT Culinary & Catering Program, you will learn the fundamentals of cooking and foodservice operations, including how to manage a restaurant and run a large scale catering event with hands-on training. If you’re curious to see what that looks like, check out this event Chef Greg and our students hosted during one of our previous courses:

Recently, our culinary students were challenged to cook and serve a gourmet Latin feast to 40-60 guests after only seven weeks of training. This catering event was an opportunity for me to throw real life kitchen experiences at our students to teach them how to dig deep, think on their feet, and keep a level head. To set the bar even higher, I invited Knoxville Mercury’s food connoisseur, Dennis Perkins, to taste and critique our performance. Would they crash and burn or rise above the flames? Continue reading to find out.

After earning your culinary certificate, you will have the skills you need to pursue a career in the culinary field of your choice. Many of our graduates go on to work as executive chefs in high-end restaurants and hotel establishments. Others follow their dreams into entrepreneurship and open food trucks, restaurants, and catering businesses. Read How to Choose the Most Satisfying Culinary Career to find the path that’s right for you.

Many veterans choose a career in the culinary industry because the benefits are numerous. For some, a culinary certificate leads to a better-than-average salary; others enjoy the flexibility to work and travel freely; a few more just want the opportunity to express themselves, improve their talents, and make a mark on the world. All of these can be a reality with a UT Culinary & Catering certificate.

While many military veterans take advantage of higher education upon returning home, there are just as many who pursue a different path first, such as marriage and family or even re-enlistment. For those who chose to postpone (or forgo) higher education, the good news is that your GI Bill benefits won’t expire and it’s never too late for a culinary education.

To learn more about how the UT Culinary & Catering Program can meet your needs as both a culinarian and a veteran, register for a free information session online or contact Pam Quick directly at 865-974-3181.

 

My Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School

How to Crack Eggs Like a Pro & Cook The Perfect Omelette

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Nov 15, 2016 10:10:00 AM

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From appetizers to desserts and everything in between, eggs are the staple ingredient of so many delicious dishes.

In fact, chefs demonstrate their greatness by understanding and implementing an egg’s versatility. According to culinary mythology, the number of folds in a chef’s toque represent the number of ways he is able to cook an egg; the greater the number, the greater the chef.

During the UT Culinary & Catering Program’s 12-week certification course, students learn how to use eggs in a variety of ways as they prepare food for catering events and craft their own recipes. This blog post provides you with a few insider’s tips so you can crack, separate, and cook eggs like a pro too.

Cracking an Egg Single-Handedly

Cracking an egg with one hand is a skill that is as impressive to watch as it is to master.

“The trick is all in the thumb,” pastry chef Emily Luchetti explains. “After cracking your egg on a flat surface, push away from yourself with your thumb as you pull with your fingers. The shell should pop right open and the egg will drop into the waiting bowl below.”

For those of you who are visual learners, here’s a video demonstration: 

 

 

As you continue practicing, crack the egg in a separate bowl from your recipe just in case any shell fragments fall in accidentally. If that does happen, you can easily remove the small pieces by scooping them out with a larger piece of shell.

Separating the White from the Yolk

egg-1460404_640.jpgThere are many different ways to separate an egg; some chefs use their fingers as a strainer and some use tools. However, the method we have found to be the most handy in the kitchen is a three-step process that requires no extra equipment and only a little bit of patience:

  • Crack open the egg.

Tap the egg on the edge of a bowl to crack open its shell.

  • Let the yolk settle in one half of the shell.

Open up the egg over one of the bowls, allowing the yolk to rest in one of the open halves of the shell.

  • Transfer the yolk back and forth, from one half of the shell to the other.

Carefully pour the yolk into the other half of the shell, letting the white drip into the bowl. Repeat this step, shifting the yolk from one shell to the other, until all of the white is sitting in the bowl. Then, pour the yolk into the second bowl.

Cooking a Simple Omelette

kitchen-775746_640.jpgWhen restaurants are hiring, they will often ask an interviewing chef to cook and serve an omelette to test his dexterity. For beginners, an omelette can be difficult to make, but with these step-by-step instructions, a carton of eggs, and a few rounds of practice, you’ll be flipping the perfect omelette in no time.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • ½ cup of filling (e.g. shredded cheese, baby spinach, finely chopped ham)

Method

  1. Beat eggs, water, salt, and pepper into a small bowl for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly blended.
  2. Melt butter in a 7-10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, tilting the pan until the bottom is completely coated.
  3. Pour in egg mixture and watch as it sets around the edges.
  4. Gently push the cooked edges toward the center with a spatula so the uncooked eggs can reach the hot pan’s surface. Continue cooking and tilt the pan as needed to ensure all parts of the eggs are cooked.
  5. Once the top surface thickens and no visible liquid remains, add your filling onto one side of the omelette and fold the omelette in half.
  6. To get your omelette onto your plate, quickly flip the pan so the omelette falls inverted or tilt the pan and gently slide it off.
An omelette can really be whatever you want it to be, so be creative and have fun! Here are 50 inspiring omelette filling ideas to help you get started.

Cook Like a Pro in 90 Minutes or Less

What All UT Culinary & Catering Graduates Have in Common

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Nov 3, 2016 2:21:00 PM

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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 clearlyunderstanding what others say and explaining yourself wellis 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.

 

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Beyond the Kitchen: 5 Advantages of Becoming a Certified Chef

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Nov 1, 2016 1:33:00 PM

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Apart from eating, cooking is one of the greatest pleasures in life, but the advantages of becoming a certified chef don't stop there. With the skills and techniques you acquire through a culinary education, the world is your oyster on the half shell.

Here are some additional perks of the job that come with the right training.

1. Better-than-Average Salary

People are always on the hunt for a good meal, and they're willing to pay a high price for good food. According to a StarChefs salary report, an executive chef stands to earn $65,983or more in a hotel setting ($81,039). Chefs de cuisine earn an average $51,114 ($55,405 in hotels); sous chefs $39,478 ($42,906); and pastry chefs $43,123 ($46,547).

2. Flexibility to Travel

Take your work anywhere. You can find foodservice career paths all over the globe, or you can travel to different cultures and learn more about an indigenous cuisine and take that knowledge home with you. Got a passion for ramen? Spend a few months in Japan and open your own authentic noodle shop back home.

3. Not Your Typical Nine-to-Five

Not everyone is cut out for the nine-to-five office life. The flexible hours associated with a restaurant, catering, or food truck career are often more exciting and rewarding for people who want to be their own boss or explore a late-night lifestyle while still earning a living.

4. Opportunities to Express Yourself

Cooking classes give you the basics in food preparation, but there's no limit to what you can do with a dish or cuisine once you've mastered the techniques. Finding a creative outlet through your cooking will allow you to express yourself and put your restaurant on the map.

5. Never a Dead End

Food culture is constantly evolving and so are the opportunities for talented cooks and chefs. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of becoming a certified chef is that there's always room to improve your craft and take your skills to the next level.

You can take the next step to becoming a certified chefand exploring the advantages that come with certificationwith the UT Culinary & Catering Program.

Our 12-week quality program will prepare you for the real-life scenarios and events that you’ll face as a certified chef. You’ll focus on honing your skills in the kitchen, learning the business aspects of the culinary industry, and developing your leadership and team-building skills, providing you with a well-rounded culinary education.

Still wondering if a career in the culinary arts is right for you? Register for a free information session to learn more about our 12-week culinary and catering program.

Can't commit to the full 12 weeks? Sign up for a cooking class, try something new, and see what our program is all about.

 

Cook Like a Pro in 90 Minutes or Less

The Three-Part Recipe for a Successful Food Business

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Oct 21, 2016 11:04:13 AM

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The food business is challenging and competitive. Even those who are the most passionate and talented can sometimes burn out. For every successful restaurant making a name for itself, many others don’t last.

Success in the food business requires many things – passion and drive, talent and creativity, and a willingness to work incredibly hard, potentially in the face of failure and setback. It also, of course, requires a bit of luck.

A successful food business, however, isn’t as elusive as it may first seem. This three-part “recipe” highlights some elements that the most successful food enterprises have in common.

1. Adaptability

One essential component of a successful culinary business is adaptability. Your creativity is central to your success as a food entrepreneur. A good restaurateur understands the power of good food and has a vision for his or her establishment, but a truly successful food business owner knows how to change and adapt strategy when things aren’t going quite right.

Whether it’s expanding into new territory or adding new recipes to your menu, continued and lasting success in the culinary business requires an adaptable mind. Adaptability keeps your food business relevant as the tastes of your customers change with the times.

2. Focus on Customers First

In addition to adaptability, you must focus on your customers to attain success in the culinary industry. As a restaurant owner, you must always be thinking about what your customers’ experience is like – from the time they set foot inside your door to the moment they pay their check and head on their way.

Staying customer-focused in your business can come fairly naturally, especially if you’re starting small (and of course, nearly every food business, even some of the biggest ones, start small). When your business is new and you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to lose customers or get bad reviews. You’re trying to build your restaurant’s reputation and that requires a focus on the needs and wants of your customers.

3. Hire Fantastic People

Hiring great people in your restaurant is the third element that nearly all successful food businesses have in common, and it goes hand in hand with a focus on great customer service. If you want your business to meet with success and maintain that success, be selective about who you choose to work for you.

The best employees not only have experience and a passion for their work, but they’re adaptable (see point 1 above!), effective, and genuinely enjoy what they do. Whether you’re looking at hiring line cooks, people to bus tables, wait staff, or hospitality staff, the common denominator that makes employees great is that they love their jobs. Your employees represent you to your customers when you aren’t there. Be comfortable and extremely confident in the people who work for you – your restaurant’s success really is in their hands.

Having great food helps, too. But if the environment is hostile or the atmosphere uninviting, even the best food won’t keep a restaurant afloat. Be more than a business – be an asset to the area, build rapport with customers, and rely on your employees. A vibrant and adaptable restaurant combines customer service that excels and breeds customer loyalty, creating more than just an eating establishment – but a community. And that is, after all, what the most successful food businesses are – communities of passionate, creative people, who love food and want to share it with others.

Just like the ingredients in a great recipe, these three elements – adaptability, great customer service, and excellent employees – add up to success in the culinary world. Like ingredients, they combine to create something greater and more wonderful than the individual pieces.

As a recognized American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) Quality program, we’ve combined these three ingredients into the curriculum of our 12-week culinary certificate course. A prime example of having done so is reflected in the catering events we host throughout the duration of the program.

If you’re interested in learning how a culinary education will prepare you for a career in food business ownership, register for a free information session. There’s no commitment required and food will be provided. What do you have to lose?

 

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

10 Chocolate Creations That Would Make Willy Wonka Proud

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Oct 12, 2016 9:02:00 AM

Chocolate: it's the staple ingredient of desserts and the medium of artists. From baking decadent cakes and pastries to coating salty-savory treats, chocolate is used all around the world. Keep scrolling for 10 amazing creations that are sure to leave you wondering, "Is that really chocolate?"

1. Chess Set

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2. High Heel Shoes

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3. Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch)

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4. Wedding Cakes w/ Handcrafted Roses

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5. Mount Rushmore

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6. Legos

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7. Lindt Chocolate Fountain (3m high!)

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8. Chocolate Covered Fruit

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9. Violin

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10. Butterflies

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At the UT Culinary Program, we use chocolate in many different ways. If you enjoy baking and the art of chocolatiering has captured your interest, join us for a free infromation session. We'll tell you how our 12-week certificate program can train you in the fundamentals of cooking, baking, and restaurant management and even help you start your own food business!

Cook good food. Be your own boss. It's what you want to do.

Chef Greg Takes Homemade Ice Cream to a Whole New Level

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Oct 5, 2016 4:58:49 PM

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Earlier today, our very own Chef Greg Eisele joined Abigail Hutchinson (Executive Chef at The Olde Farm) on WJHL-TV where they demonstrated how to make homemade ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

Check out the video clips below for the full feature, brought to you by our friends at WJHL-TV.

 

 

 Do you love ice cream? Are you adventurous? While these ice cream flavors might not make you scream, they’ll definitely make you scratch your head in bewilderment, thinking “Who’s idea was this?" in The Top 30 Most Bizarre Ice Cream Flavors.

 

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

Why Easy Isn't Better When It Comes to Culinary School

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Oct 4, 2016 10:05:00 AM

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While some cooking and foodservice management skills are easier to learn than others, we’d be doing you a disservice if we told you that culinary school is a breeze.

At the UT Culinary Program, we believe any skill worth having is a skill worth mastering. That’s why we’ve designed our culinary certificate course to be challenging, even if it is only 12 weeks long.

As a general rule of thumb, the more intense the program, the more prepared you will be for a successful career.

We prepare our students with catering challenges and events designed to put the pressure on and hone their skills. These blog posts provide two of the many ways we do this:

Many of our graduates have become excellent restaurant chefs, catering event managers, and food truck business owners. Some of them have even taken it upon themselves to become personal mentors to our incoming students. Read their stories here.

If you’re ready to take the next step, Do You Think You’re Ready for Culinary School? is a blog post we’ve written just for you.

And if you’re certain that culinary school is right for you, download our free self-assessment to make sure you choose the right one.

As a Tennessee ACFEF Quality Program, our program turns talented chefs into confident restaurant, food truck, and catering managers.

Learn more about what the UT Culinary Program has in store for you by signing up for a free information session online or calling Pam Quick at 865-974-3181.

 

My Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School

Why It’s Never Too Late for a Culinary Education

Posted by University of Tennessee Culinary Program on Sep 29, 2016 1:17:00 PM

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Not everyone enters culinary school as a fresh-faced youngster right out of high school. Many older adults dream of pursuing a second career as chefs but hesitate because they worry that it might be too late to get a culinary education. If you are one of those people considering a career change that starts with culinary school, have no fear – it’s never too late to get a culinary education.

An older culinary student coming from a second career brings a level of experience to the kitchen that younger students simply can’t attain. And even if you’re not necessarily interested in becoming a head chef, if you’ve decided to make food your second career, there are a number of career paths available to you — such as a private chef, food stylist, food writer, and special events caterer. Everything depends on your own interests and passions.

Why You Should Attend Culinary School

No matter what your specific interest in the culinary arts happens to be, if you have the means, opportunity, and interest to attend culinary school, there’s no good reason not to do it. Perhaps you’re a retired foodie who wants the chance to pick the brains of great chefs and cook gourmet meals for your family. Maybe you’re a freelance blogger who wants to give food writing a try.

No matter what your experience or background, there’s a place for you in a culinary school if you love food and want to work hard at improving your skill in the kitchen.

As an older culinary student, you’re also likely to find that you may be more focused on your studies that some of your less-seasoned classmates. You’ve had one career (or maybe more) already, and you’ve decided once and for all that culinary school is the path you want to take. Unlike many others, you’re also likely paying for your culinary education out of your own pocket, and you want to work hard to get the most out of your investment!

Embrace the Challenge and Try Not to Worry

It’s natural to be nervous if you’re in your 40s or 50s and going back to school. You may imagine yourself feeling out of place, surrounded by the fresh faces of 20-somethings. Once you begin classes, though, you’ll likely find your concerns are unfounded. Culinary students come in all levels of age and experience. It’s unlikely that you’ll be the only nontraditional student.  

If you’re unsure about attending culinary school, try taking a job in a restaurant or working with a chef who’s willing to teach you and pass on his or her skills and knowledge. A little restaurant experience under your belt can help you determine whether culinary school is right for you.

Regardless of age, culinary training is great first step in a new career. Drive, determination, and a commitment to education matter more than a number on a birth certificate. Harness experience for this new adventure in culinary education.

We designed the UT Culinary Program as a 12-week program because we know your life is busy and going back to school can be hard. Register for a free information session for a complete overview of the things you’ll learn during your time here.

If you’re still a little hesitant, read How to Overcome Back-to-School Challenges for a few tips on how you can ease the transition from the workforce to the classroom.

My Guide to Choosing the Right Culinary School