Confit, crème brûlée, coq au vin. Gnocchi, pierogi, béchamel.
They’re more than just a tableful of fancy foreign foods—they’re what’s for dinner, and breakfast and lunch, when it’s prepared by students enrolled in the Pellissippi State Culinary Arts Institute.
Registration is now under way to launch an exciting culinary career through Pellissippi State Community College, with a new round of courses starting spring semester. The application deadline is Jan. 9, and classes begin Jan. 20.
“Our students learn to cook to the sensory perceptions,” said Tom Gaddis, Culinary Arts program coordinator. “Before you even see fajitas, you hear them sizzling. Before you bite into them, you see the multicolored peppers. Culinary is truly an art.”
Students who pursue a two-year degree in Business/Culinary Arts learn about every aspect of the institutional kitchen: stocks and sauces (“There are five mother, or foundation, sauces,” one of them the creamy béchamel, said Gaddis); moist and dry cooking methods: blanching, braising, poaching, stewing, baking, barbecuing/smoking; equipment, safety; meats, from beef and fowl (coq au vin, confit) to rabbit and venison; seasonal vegetables; desserts (crème brûlée).
“Each instructor has his or her own specialty,” said Gaddis. “One chef is from Pittsburgh, and his specialty is Polish food like pierogi and gnocchi. Another specializes in Mediterranean, and another in Japanese.
“Students are able to pursue careers they genuinely love,” he said, “and Culinary Arts has maintained a very high level of job placement since its inception.”
Culinary Arts launched in 2010, part of a collaborative venture between Pellissippi State and the University of Tennessee. It’s a cohort, meaning students enter and complete the courses together, start to finish. Classes are at the Division Street Campus and in the laboratory kitchens at UT’s Culinary Institute off Neyland Drive.
Graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business with a concentration in Culinary Arts. They’re also certified through the National Restaurant Association in food production and sanitation, and they can apply to the American Culinary Federation to become certified culinarians, the first step toward professional chef certification.
Lee Garrand, a Pellissippi State Community College Culinary Arts student who is scheduled to graduate this Friday, May 4, has just landed a culinary job at the prestigious Blackberry Farm. The position wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter—he earned it, through hard work and an intense but successful hands-on “interview.”
The 30-year-old student is one of 28 in the first graduating class of Culinary Arts, a collaborative venture between Pellissippi State and the University of Tennessee’s Culinary Arts Institute.
Garrand says he had some stiff competition when he vied for the position at Blackberry Farm. Some applicants came from other states and two had gone to the most prestigious culinary schools in the country, he says. Yet, it was the student from Pellissippi State who apparently impressed those conducting the interview most.
“I had a ‘working interview’ with Josh Feathers, the corporate chef at Blackberry Farm,” Garrand said. The 4,200-acre luxury resort in the Smokies attracts visitors from around the world.
Garrand was tasked with designing an entrée that would appeal to the eye and wow the discriminating palate of Feathers and sous chef Steve Ledbetter.
“There was a time limit, just like the show ‘Chopped,’” Garrand said. “It was 8:40 in the morning, and [Feathers] said he wanted to see a platter by 9:30.”
So the former Marine and law enforcement officer foraged through the restaurant’s walk-in cooler for available ingredients.
“I made a pepper-spiced wild rice and a bone-in poussin [baby chicken] breast with blanched asparagus and a raspberry cream beurre rouge [red butter sauce],” Garrand said. “He loved it.”
Garrand has been at Blackerry Farm since March.
“It’s very busy,” he said. “It’s of the highest quality and highest standards one could expect from a professional five-star restaurant.”
The soon-to-be graduate speaks highly of what he learned at Pellissippi State: “The Culinary Arts program is a great technical experience. It’s extremely informative and absolutely hands-on in preparing you for the professional culinary field.”
Garrand and his classmates spent the last two years sharpening both their kitchen and their business administration skills. Culinary Arts has a “cohort”-style format, so the students went through all the courses together, start to finish. They learned everything from ice carving to pastry, and they each interned at local restaurants and bakeries.
The class graduates with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Culinary Arts. The ceremony is at 7 p.m. at UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena.
Garrand, Kyndall Leach and Tammy Jo Johnson were named the top students.
Leach was a 16-year-old home-schooled high school graduate when she started in Culinary Arts. Now 18, she graduates Friday with a concentration in not only Culinary Arts but also Hospitality. Similar to the joint effort by classmates and sisters Tiffany Haynes and Stephanie Criswell, who just opened Emma Lou Bakery in Oak Ridge, Leach wants to open her own catering business, she hopes with a couple of her fellow students.
“I loved working in the kitchen,” Leach said of her experience. “It was always loud—that’s for sure. We had a good time. It’s like doing something with your friends that everybody loves, creating something together.”
Johnson, 46, already has a position as a hot appetizer chef at The Orangery, an upscale restaurant in Knoxville.
Students who enter Culinary Arts pursue their classroom instruction at the Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus. Tom Gaddis coordinates Culinary Arts (as well as Hospitality). A two-time graduate of UT’s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism program, he has a doctorate in human ecology with a concentration in hotel and restaurant administration.
Gaddis received the Tennessee Hospitality Association Award in 2003 and 2008 and the Greater Knoxville Tourism Alliance’s Pauly Award in 2008. He recently was awarded the national Exemplary Leadership in Higher Education Award from the Chair Academy.
Students also spend four hours a day, three days a week, honing their skills in the state-of-the-art laboratory kitchen at UT’s Culinary Institute on Neyland Drive, just two miles away. They are taught by local chefs with American Culinary Federation certifications.
Graduates are certified through the National Restaurant Association in food production and sanitation and can apply to the ACF for certification as Certified Culinarians, the first step toward professional chef certification.
For additional information on Culinary Arts, contact Gaddis at (865) 971-5246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is now under way for fall semester. To learn more, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.
Candace Gilbert did Japan and Italy. Jessica Hawkins oversaw Ireland and France. Summer Bury coordinated Brazil and Persia.
No, the Pellissippi State Community College students are not involved in a study abroad program. As students in Culinary Arts at the college, all three have been involved in a series of luncheons this spring at the University of Tennessee’s Ready for the World Café.
The luncheon series, which concludes on April 26, offers the culinary students the opportunity to serve as head kitchen managers and assistant kitchen managers for luncheons inspired by cuisines from a wide variety of traditions.
In their supervisory roles, Gilbert, Hawkins and Bury have already taken their turn at executing the dining experience, managing staff, planning menus, preparing the food, generating cost analyses, marketing, serving diners and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Bury stepped into the spotlight on April 17, when she oversaw the luncheon spotlighting Persia. The Pellissippi State student, who moved to Knoxville five years ago from Washington state, says she was excited about her luncheon duties. She had previously supervised a luncheon focusing on Brazil, so many of her preparatory activities were the same for the Persia luncheon. What was different, she explains, was the challenge of gathering ingredients.
“For my research for the Persia luncheon,” she said, “I found that we couldn’t necessarily get all of the ingredients here. We had to find substitutes. Some things are the same, though, such as presentation. The food always has to be plated nicely.” Bury recently began an internship with Kroger Marketplace.
Gilbert, originally from Knoxville, says that she has been interested in cooking since the age of 4. She cooked for her family as a teen, deciding to pursue her passion as a profession when Pellissippi State began offering Culinary Arts.
Gilbert is now working as an intern with All Occasion Catering. She hopes to one day open her own catering business, preferably one that focuses on organic food and operates as a food truck. She praises the chefs who serve as instructors.
“Tyler White and John Alunni are excellent instructors,” she said. “Chef White and Chef Alunni both push you out of your comfort zone to make you the best you can be. They have been very supportive and have offered me great direction.”
Hawkins, who has worked in the restaurant industry for 13 years, enrolled at Pellissippi State for an education in hospitality management. Culinary Arts and Hospitality are two of five concentrations offered in Business Administration. She says that Tom Gaddis, coordinator of both Culinary Arts and Hospitality, saw her potential and encouraged her to attend the Culinary Arts classes.
“I am glad he did,” said Hawkins. “I love the program and am going to miss it when I graduate. We have had many great opportunities, such as working with Chef McGrady, Princess Diana’s chef, and Chef Garrett, who has his own show on PBS.”
Hawkins says she is also grateful for the employment opportunities that she attributes to Pellissippi State:
“When I started my job at Calhoun’s on the River as a banquet chef, I surprised myself with how comfortable I was and how much I know. I owe this to the Culinary Arts concentration. In this slow economy, many people have the problem of finding a job. My problem seems to be choosing which job to accept.”
The Ready for the World Café is produced through collaboration by Pellissippi State, the UT Culinary Institute and UT’s Advanced Food Production and Service Management class. The two schools began a joint venture in 2010 that offers Pellissippi State students the opportunity to earn the Associate of Applied Science degree.
The Pellissippi State students learn culinary skills in a state-of-the-art laboratory/kitchen at the Culinary Institute, located in UT’s Visitors Center, 2712 Neyland Dr. The students also take classes at Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus, which is located two miles from the Culinary Institute.
Graduates of Pellissippi State’s two-year program are eligible to apply to the American Culinary Federation for the Certified Culinarian credential, the first step toward professional chef certification.
The April 26 luncheon features the cuisine of Germany. The event takes place noon-1 and is open to the public.
Tickets are $12, available through UT, by calling (865) 974-6645. Seating capacity is 50-60 diners.
For more information regarding Pellissippi State or the Culinary Arts concentration, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.
Students enrolled in the Culinary Arts concentration at Pellissippi State are showcasing their talents in a series of weekly luncheons this spring at the University of Tennessee’s Ready for the World Café.
Each of the Ready for the World Café luncheons focuses on the traditional dishes of one country. Every luncheon consists of an intermezzo (a small appetizer), salad, entrée and dessert. Upcoming luncheons and the cuisines featured:
Tuesday, March 27—Italy
Tuesday, April 3—France
Tuesday, April 10—Liberia
Tuesday, April 17—Persia (Iran)
Thursday, April 26—Germany
The Ready for the World Café is produced through a collaboration by Pellissippi State with the UT Culinary Institute and UT’s Advanced Food Production and Service Management class. Pellissippi State students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend luncheons in support of our Culinary Arts students.
The cost for each luncheon is $12, and seating capacity is 50-60. Tickets are available through UT. Call 974-6645 for ticketing information. Luncheons are noon-1 in the UT Visitors Center, 2712 Neyland Dr. For the weekly menu, visit www.utk.edu/readyfortheworld/cafe.php and click on the current week.
Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN