If you teach culinary and have never been to Johnson & Wales’ Summer Educator’s Program you are missing out. I highly recommend attending if you get the opportunity. The J & W Summer Educator’s Program is professional development for vocational and FACS teachers who want to learn how to improve their skills especially working in a commercial kitchen. There are several programs. I happened to have taken the baking and pastry program but they also offer Culinary Essentials which follows their high school text book that goes by the same name.
I have a standing offer from my husband since the release of the iPhone 3GS to buy an iPhone but I keep turning him down because, “I don’t really need one.” How serendipitous is it that I stumble upon two iPhone apps in one day that I can use in the classroom? Is someone trying to tell me something? Well, here is my second favorite of the day- the ratio app. Every culinary teacher’s got to have this one!
Have you ever wondered how they make candy bars? The scientist in me was so intrigued I just had to figure it out. Nothing can get students more excited than the prospect of making candy. They often remark, “you can make your own candy bars?” “Yes” I say, “its magic.” But really all it takes is a whole bunch of problem solving skills-a great way to teach students these skills as they beg you to engage in this lesson.
Since I teach semester culinary classes, Valentines Day comes up around the time that I am going over how to measure correctly. I use this lab for my culinary II students who already have learned how to measure correctly so instead of demonstrating the techniques I have them show me that they remember how to measure correctly by making this recipe. This lab also allows them to get familiar with their kitchens and lab group. Obviously this recipe or any other cookie recipe could be used to produce the same results—students proving that they know how to measure different ingredients.
Teaching the elements and principles of design gets monotonous. There are always the traditional standbys like having students find a magazine picture and label the elements and principles, but I was looking for something more creative. With the holiday season in full swing I wanted to make a gingerbread house for a friend so I decided to make the inside of a gingerbread house using the elements and principles of design. Not into the whole gingerbread thing? The same idea can be used to create a diorama out of a shoe box and it will save you the time baking.
Another great way to teach students how to bake in mass quantity, maintain quality control, and market food attractively is to sell boxes of several kinds of Christmas cookies. My students made boxes of 3 dozen Christmas cookies including peanut butter kisses, chocolate crinkle, Russian Tea Cakes, gingerbread, sugar, raspberry thumb prints and coconut macaroons. The community generously supports the fundraiser often profusely thanking me for making their holidays easier.