Escoffier Graduate Lands Job at Farm-To-Table Restaurant
Former dean, food writer, recipe tester, and app creator, Patti Cook, tells us how the program has led to her landing a job at Farm-To-Table restaurant, Hinesburg Public House in Vermont. Taking the leap to attend the online Culinary Arts program (October 2012) she set out to increase her skill set and knowledge – in her words – the program helped her career even more than she could imagine, and has helped her gain confidence in the kitchen. Hear her story:
Escoffier: What jobs have you been exposed to in the industry?
Patti: As a young person who loved working with food, I did stints as a morning egg cook in the college cafeteria, a line cook in a French bistro, and an appetizer assembler for a large catering company. After teaching in higher education for almost 20 years, I went back to the food world and was a Senior Faculty Member and Dean of Faculty at the New England Culinary Institute. I taught food related courses including food writing as well as worked with chefs on effective teaching methods. It was totally a blast to blend my love of education with food and beverages. In my Dean’s role, I worked with a branch campus in the British Virgin Islands and helped the program get accredited. It was exciting to work with young people from all over the Caribbean in a restaurant based educational model. I also was part of a teaching team that went to Napa 3 times over a year period for food and wine pairing training. After working at the culinary institute, I worked for a number of years as a recipe tester and developer for EatingWell magazine. During my time there (making thousand+ recipes!), I learned so much about ingredients, cooking methods, and healthy eating. The food editor has won many James Beard awards and was a true wealth of information. Through recipe testing and development, I became very good at paying close attention to details during the cooking process. My love of healthy food and education are the center of who I am. I’ve been teaching Healthy Cooking classes at the Visiting Nurse Association for years—we’re one of the only centers in the country that teaches care assistants about basic healthy cooking methods.
Escoffier: What skill set have you learned from the program to help you get a job in the industry?
Patti: I could go on for hours about all the skills and knowledge I’ve gained in the culinary program. I’ve learned key things in areas like knife skills; vegetable, meat and grain cooking; sauces and stocks; and ingredients. Really, everything I’ve learned has increased my skills and knowledge so much and helped me develop a professional life in the culinary industry.
Escoffier: You recently received a job at a farm-to-table restaurant, how did the chef feel about you having online culinary training?
Patti: A big reason that I got the job was the chef looked at my e-portfolio for the program and was really impressed. He said it demonstrated my understanding of key areas. Although he doesn’t require credentials, he typically goes with culinary school people. He saw Escoffier’s Online Program as a solid, reputable and worthwhile program.
Escoffier: What is your position at the restaurant?
Patti: I wanted kitchen restaurant experience and started as an entry-level production cook. The kitchen makes everything from scratch, so I do all kinds of things including cutting and portioning fish and meat, making mixes for different burgers, making soups and sauces, creating spice mixes, baking pretzels, cutting vegetables, and so much more! I’ve been there a few months and recently started to work with the head chefs on revising the recipe book and creating plating diagrams. I’ve also been doing some recipe testing and writing for them. A lot of my previous job experiences and the culinary program have given me skills in attention to detail, which my chef really respects.
Escoffier: What do you like about your job?
Patti: I love my job at the restaurant for so many reasons, and it all boils down to learning. I am continually learning new things and get to work with some really amazing chefs who are also terrific teachers. It is also constant practice in working fast, efficient, and clean while maintaining positive work attitude. Moreover, it is an opportunity to continually apply what I’ve learned in the culinary program. I also love that I bring a unique skill set to the kitchen team and my chef acknowledges and appreciates that. The opportunity to test and revise the recipes and develop the plating book is truly exciting and very professionally satisfying. I’m also lucky that it fits with my other work teaching cooking classes as well as teaching communication classes at the local college.