From “Fox Valley Celiacs bringing in gluten-free chef for demonstrations” — Rebecca Reilly used to skip school to stay home and cook.

“That was the time Julia Child and Graham Kerr were on television, and I was in a family where we did all the cooking,” the Massachusetts chef said. “My mother had three girls, and we were responsible for cooking because she was working, too.”

As an adult, the kitchen remained a safe haven for Reilly.

“The world was safe as long as I had my apron on,” she said.

Reilly is a classically French-trained chef with more than 20 years in signature cafés and high-end kitchens as head chef, sous chef, pastry chef and menu consultant. She also is nationally recognized as a gluten-free chef, instructor, author and food coach.

The latter is the result of learning in the mid-’90s that she, her daughter and her son all have celiac disease.

Fox Valley Celiacs support group has partnered with the Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program to bring Reilly, author of the bestselling cookbook, “Gluten Free Baking,” to Appleton on April 5. Reilly will teach gluten-free breads and desserts from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and gluten-free homemade pasta and simple meals from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Each session is $10.

Culinary arts students from FVTC will offer a gluten-free lunch between sessions for $8. Vendor booths offering gluten-free products in their stores will provide information, coupons and samples.

“The board of the Fox Valley Celiac Support Group is thrilled to be hosting chef Rebecca here in Appleton,” board member Rebecca Mailand said. “By partnering with Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program, we were able to make this a reality. Festival Foods has been a huge help as well by providing us with the ingredients chef Rebecca will use during her sessions. In addition, Festival Foods as well as Happy Bellies Bake Shop, the Free Market and Bulk Priced Foods will have vendor booths at the event.”

For Reilly, learning about celiac disease started with her son, now 22.

“My son was very sickly,” she said. “As a 5-year-old he couldn’t even walk across a basketball (court) without someone picking up and carrying him. And he couldn’t breathe. He was an emotional, physical mess.”

While allergy prick tests showed no sensitivity to gluten, blood work did.

Feeding her son gluten-free foods transformed not only his life, it also helped Reilly’s irritable bowel and made her daughter’s migraine headaches disappear.

“My son was a gift. I look at him as my gift to heal all three of us,” she said.

Reilly said she loves teaching people how to make flexible and delicious breads and pizza and more with alternative grains.

“People go, ‘Oh, my god. I can do this. I can have pumpernickel. I can have focaccia. I can have, I can have, I can have,’” she said. “When people take my class, it transforms their lives. … I am not about recipes. I’m about teaching you how to make it.”

From “MATC’s culinary programs expand, benefitting students and public” – By Nancy J. Stohs – The culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College have undergone major changes in the last couple of years, and the hungry public is as much a beneficiary as the students.

When the student-run Cuisine restaurant relocated in fall of 2012 to the first floor of the school’s main downtown campus, that opened up space on the sixth floor to add a second culinary skills lab and an international foods lab, both of which opened this past fall.

That made two things possible: the addition of four course requirements to the culinary arts curriculum — regional American cuisine, European/Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cuisine, and South and Central American cuisine — and to eliminate the program’s waiting list.

“In the past, we could take 35 new students a semester, or about 70 a year,” said Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of hospitality and food manufacturing programs at MATC. “Last fall we took in about 75 students and this spring 86 students.

“Anybody who applied to the culinary arts program got in.”

The baking and pastry arts program, similarly, nearly doubled its enrollment after a new baking and chocolate lab opened last fall on the first floor. Typically, 50 students would be admitted each year; this year, it was 80.

And that’s where the hungry public comes in. The new baking lab feeds a new student-run venue, the 6th Street Cafe, located across the hall from Cuisine. Opened last fall serving coffee and breakfast, it added lunch this semester.

That was based on a recommendation from the program’s advisory committee.

In order to stay competitive, “the bakeries we knew once upon a time that just did doughnuts and cookies and cakes have evolved,” Busalacchi explained. So while the students do learn how to bake, “they also end up with a solid skill set for the café operation.”

Soups ($2 cup, $3 bowl), salads ($4.95 to $6.95), sandwiches ($6 or $6.94), plus various coffee drinks, pastries, cold beverages and seven flavors of ice cream and sorbet are on the cafe’s menu, which changes slightly every few weeks.

Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, including the breads for sandwiches and the sorbets and ice creams, and — as in Cuisine — ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible.

Last week I sampled a zesty Oaxacan black bean soup, a flavorful spinach salad with walnuts, pears, chevre, grapes and balsamic vinaigrette and an applewood smoked ham and aged cheddar sandwich. Oh, and a couple of couldn’t-resist desserts sold in the adjoining 6th Street Bakery.

Like Cuisine, the cafe is open most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Café hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch service starts at 11:30). The café will close for the semester around the first week of May; Cuisine the second or third week.

Cuisine takes reservations (free through Open Table), while the cafe, which seats up to about 70 in two dining rooms and which also offers carryout, is walk-up service.

So far, promotion of the cafe has been internal word of mouth only.

Operating the 6th Street Cafe is the capstone class for the two-year baking and pastry arts program, just as operating Cuisine restaurant is the final course for culinary arts students. Graduation and job-hunting are next.

In addition to these two programs, MATC also added a two-year culinary management program about a year ago.

And where will all of these graduates find jobs?

Busalacchi isn’t worried. Statistics show that more than 800 new food service jobs — cooks, chefs, bakers and managers — are added annually within a 50-mile radius of downtown Milwaukee.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, employing more than 13 million people, or 10% of the U.S. workforce.

What’s next?

The school is hoping to have Cuisine restaurant open for business some evenings in the spring of 2015 and that summer, Busalacchi said.

As for major changes, “we’re done for a while.”

From “Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer: Through the eyes of an apprentice” – World renowned pastry chef Jacquey Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School and author of the new book “The Art of French Pastry,” has won countless accolades for his tireless pursuit of perfection in pastry.

He has also been recognized for his exceptional mentorship, which he has extended to dozens of pastry students from Wisconsin. Some, like Chef Kurt Fogle of SURG Restaurant Group, who Pfeiffer mentions by name as a star pupil, have gone on to make their own marks on the world of pastry.

On January 12, Fogle and a team of some of the city’s finest culinary talent – including Chefs Justin Carlisle of Ardent, Matt Haase of Rocket Baby Bakery, Andrew Miller of Hom Woodfired Grill and Jarvis Williams of Carnevor — will host a dinner honoring Pfeiffer. The five course dinner will serve as a celebration of his life, his work, and his new book.

The menu is being kept under wraps, but Fogle says each chef will be pulling out the stops in an effort to pay homage to Pfeiffer.

“We all work together, and we’re all a little competitive,” Fogle remarks, “So, you know everyone is bringing their A-game. There’s something–without trying to sound like too much of a weirdo — about watching five guys really going for it. To be a person in the room experiencing those dishes.”

Fogle has a particular investment in the dinner, since Pfeiffer was a key influencer in setting the direction of his career.

During his tenure with Pfeiffer, Fogle was one of very few Americans who had the privilege of taking part in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France), a competition captured in the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.”

NPR’s Ella Taylor remarked, “Kings of Pastry is about the craft, the teaching and learning, the collaborative work, the tedium, the heartbreak and emotional backbone it takes to make something lovely, even if that something is destined to disappear down a gullet in seconds — and even if the maker ends up a noble failure.”

“The whole damn experience was indelible,” Fogle says. “Working with Pfeiffer was two years of just having my mind blown day after day. And it was exhausting. Nothing will ever be harder than that. Nothing. I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself, but that’s the highest level.”

Working together created a professional and personal bond between the two chefs. Fogle says Pfieffer continued to be his mentor even after he left Chicago. In fact, it was Pfieffer who encouraged Fogle to move back to his home state of Wisconsin after completion of the competition.

“Since I was 15 working at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, I had a passion for this part of the culinary world, and Pfeiffer encouraged me to come back and see where I could enhance pastry here,” he says.

He credits Pfeiffer with launching his career, as well as setting the direction for his art.

“To sum it up,” Fogle tells me, “He’s one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, and in turn I’m one of the luckiest apprentices to walk the planet.”

He went on to talk about some of the things he took away from his experience.

“I don’t want to say I didn’t learn to cook from him,” Fogle explains. “But what I really learned is how to think, how to be organized. He didn’t teach me how to bake, he taught me how to think.”

And for Fogle, part of that experience was learning that he could do anything to which he set his mind.

“One of the first things you learn from him is that anything is possible, because if it’s impossible we’re just going to create a technique or a tool or a trick to make it happen,” he tells me. “It wasn’t how to hold a spatula and fold mousse. It was the commitment and philosophical aspect I gained – learning to be tenacious and resourceful so that when I get out into the real world… when I don’t have a proofer or a sheeter– and I have an oven with hotspots hotter than Mercury — that I could still put out a great croissant.”

Fogle, who has known Pfeiffer since 2006, says he’s more than just a great teacher and pastry chef.

“He’s really really good at foozeball and ping-pong,” Fogle goes on. “Like he makes me feel bad about even playing against him.”

But, Fogle says his gentle disposition is what really makes Pfeiffer exceptional.

“In all the time I’ve known him, he’s never raised his voice,” he explains. “He’s the sort of guy who just makes you want to do things better – whether it’s pastry or what it is… he just never loses any steam. He’s ok going back and back and back and making things better and better. That’s really what rubbed off the most.”

Fogle, who teaches part-time at MATC in their culinary department, says he learned a great deal about teaching from Pfeiffer.

“I think the most important thing that I learned from him is that you have to be patient, and you have to let people struggle through it… a good example is that he was trying to teach me how to pipe something. I was struggling with holding the bag and not moving it. A couple of years later I realized I was doing it properly. But, I don’t know when it happened. He instilled in the idea that you just need to do it and do it again.”

So, when he teaches, Fogle says he always keeps that in mind.

“The fact is, I can’t talk you into being a good pastry chef, and I can’t make you into a great chef. But, I can be there for you and work with you and help you get there.”

Sounds like the sort of teacher we’d all love to have had.

From “FVTC culinary students create elaborate gingerbread houses” – Culinary students at Fox Valley Technical College are creating elaborate gingerbread houses for a unique fundraiser.

The houses will be on display in the college’s commons area the week of December 16th.

They’ll be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the Culinary Arts program.

Instructor, Chef Sue Horvath, and student Jason Sargeant from Neenah joined Good Day Wisconsin Tuesday to give some tips on constructing and decorating your own gingerbread house.


From “Thanksgiving dinner disasters averted” – As Thanksgiving approaches, visions of burned turkeys, lumpy gravy and burned stuffing can bring kitchen anxiety to even the most seasoned cooks.

WKOW visited Madison College Culinary Arts to talk with Chef Paul Short, who teaches us how to fix the most common cooking disasters on turkey day.

“If the turkey’s not thawed completely, don’t crank up the oven — delay dinner,” Short said. “We don’t want to make people sick. It’s about getting together and having a great time, so having that great time destroyed because we rush something, that’s not going to work.”

Short says people who don’t thaw their turkeys well enough often crank up the oven temperature to compensate; however, “it’s not cooking any faster. It’s only cooking faster on the outside.”

The solution is to cut the turkey meat off the bone, slice it into 1-inch thick slices, place the slices in a pan, cover the meat with gravy, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until the meat reaches 165 degrees in the middle or is no longer pink.

“You just need to serve it differently,” Short said, explaining to serve the slices and gravy on a platter. “It’s not going to look like a normal Rockwell turkey.”

Short makes sure to mention that people should sanitize all knives, boards and surfaces if there are raw turkey juices.

“You really need to clean this up before you do anything else because you don’t want to make your guests or family sick from your turkey,” Short said.

Lumpy gravy is an easy problem to fix, according to Short.

“Just sieve it,” he said, holding up a fine mesh strainer. He explains that if people are adding a thickener to hot liquid, the thickener needs to be cold. Otherwise, it will form lumps or what Short likes to call “dumplings.”

To avoid burning stuffing, set the baking dish in a pan of shallow water and bake.

“The water will cause steam to come off there, so it’s going to help us create a moist stuffing and also help us in the cooking process to help that custard bond together,” Short said, explaining to bake the stuffing in the water bath the entire time it’s in the oven to avoid burning the top and bottom.

From  “Column: MATC president makes good first impression” — Jack E. Daniels, the new president of Madison Area Technical College, is straightforward about his challenges and priorities.

The college’s enrollment is slipping after a building boom. Labor contracts are expiring in a post-Act 10 world. Technology is changing the traditional classroom.

Yet Daniels likes what he sees on his many campuses, wants to develop a shared vision and promises to always put students first.

His candor included an honest answer to a tough question Tuesday from the State Journal editorial board. Asked when he last spoke to his predecessor, Bettsey Barhorst, Daniels replied without hesitation that it’s been about a month and a half.

That’s more evidence the MATC District Board’s pay extension for Barhorst ($88,000 for 19 weeks of on-call advice, mostly by phone) was a parting gift for her long tenure. It wasn’t a seriously needed consulting gig.

Daniels, a Chicago native who ran a community college in Los Angeles, makes a good first impression. He seems collaborative yet driven, emphasizing the employment needs of the region.

“Technical college is about jobs — getting people prepared for jobs,” he stressed.

That ranges from culinary classes to manufacturing skills to a specialized program on stem cells. MATC also is the top source of transfer students to UW-Madison.

Daniels said the focus on MATC’s building expansion will shift more to what’s happening in those facilities.

Daniels has met with hundreds of groups since starting his job Aug. 19. He’s launching a strategic planning effort and pledged to seek wide input.

MATC’s enrollment has fallen as the economy has improved. Daniels said that places more importance on recruitment. Pitching MATC’s affordability to parents could help attract more high school students, he suggested. Daniels had hundreds of high school students on his college campus in Los Angeles. Smoothing that transition is key.

Daniels said he supports online and hybrid classes but wants them carefully assessed. The traditional role of instructors isn’t going away, he added.

California makes it easier to track the jobs and pay of graduates by Social Security number, something Wisconsin doesn’t allow, he said. Yet measuring success is vital, he suggested.

Daniels isn’t hung up on his institution’s name. Whether you call it MATC or Madison College, what’s important is that it fulfills its mission, he said.

We like the attitude and honesty.

From “BMHS fairs expose students to career success ingredients” – Beloit Memorial High School was buzzing with activity on Thursday morning as the school held its first Wisconsin Education Fair in the field house and first Annual Career and Technical Education Fair in the Barkin Arena.

Juniors and seniors had a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education required to obtain them.

The Wisconsin Education Fair (WEF) featured four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. BMHS school counselor Erin Wolf said it was the first time WEF, the largest educational fair in Wisconsin, came to Beloit. Those at BMHS had tried for two years to get the school to be one of the approved sites. On Thursday, Wolf said there were 102 post-secondary options represented including two-year and four-year schools in addition to the military and cosmetology schools.

Representatives from universities and colleges from Iowa, Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota and other states were represented.

BMHS senior Heather Miller, interested in biology and astronomy, was checking out a booth from Northland College, a small school in Ashland, Wis. She said she liked the idea of a college with classes as small as 12-14 students. She said having schools from across the state and country was a great idea.

“I don’t have to go visit all of them. To come here is pretty helpful,” she said.

Students Erica Dominguez-Martinez, Ann McKee and Kaitlyn Rivas were chatting with University of Wisconsin-Platteville Admission Advisor Katharine Caywood about their interests in psychology, foreign languages, animal science and business degrees.

Kaitlyn said she was interested in Platteville because of it’s forensic science investigation major as she hopes to become a coroner or medical examiner. Caywood told her Platteville also offers internships at the Rockford, Ill., Coroner’s Office.

Wolf said the fair was a great success, and that afterward school counselors were preparing to make individual contact with all the seniors to help them work on their college application processes.

Businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, welding, information systems, graphic arts, even tourism and hospitality were invited to set up a booth at the Career and Technical Education Fair. And on Thursday some were getting some hands-on experience.

Blackhawk Technical College Culinary Arts instructor and executive pastry chef Katie Thomas’s table was a hit with students as she offered them the opportunity to make little swan-shaped cream puffs. She said it was a great way to engage with students.

“Students feel like they’ve made something, and it gets their creative juices flowing,” she said.

Heather Warne, a human resource generalist, with Prent Thermoforming out of Janesville, said her company packages medical components. There is a strong need for engineers as well as machine operators as well as IT, finance and human resource professionals. She said students who come out of high school with some automotive training can be easily trained to work on machines.

University of Wiscoinsin-Platteville Professor of Electrical Engineering Dale Buechler, Ph.D., who works with engineering students at UW-Rock County, brought a miniature solar panel, paper plate turbine and a circuit board to entice students into pursuing engineering careers. He told them with Rock County’s partnership with UW-Platteville, there are classes in the evenings allowing students to work during the day while pursuing engineering. And advances in technologies have made much of the equipment more affordable and portable so students can spend less time on campus and more time working at home.

From “Shorewood chef wins MATC kitchen entrepreneur challenge” – Marcus Thie from Shorewood has been named winner of the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge for his concept Sauceformations, a line of organic sauces.

The finalists were judged at a tasting event which took place last week at Cuisine, the student-run restaurant at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Thie won top honors for his line of gluten-free and Paleo-diet friendly organic sauces for home chefs including Tomato Choka, a recipe from Trinidad.

Thie wants to to launch StreetBeet, a food truck where he can promote locally grown food and showcase organic recipes featuring his sauce line.

The grand prize was $2,500 in seed money from Reliable Water Services of Milwaukee to help start Thie’s business, a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC and over $500 worth of professional cookware and professional knives from Boelter Superstore and a two-hour private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Milwaukee’s Advisory Council.

Other finalists included Pete Cooney of Pete’s Pops – Handcrafted Ice Pops and Andrew Bechaud of Bechaud Elixing Company, both based in Milwaukee.

The Challenge was sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College and Reliable Water Services.


From “Sisters focus on quality butchery, wines” – You don’t think of a butcher shop as a place to sit down for a glass of wine and a sandwich, but then, there aren’t too many places like Bavette La Boucherie.

This shop, which seems on track to become a foodie destination, opened in May in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

It’s primarily a neighborhood butcher shop, where you can buy locally and sustainably produced beef, pork and lamb, as well as a selection of sausages.

But it’s also a café with several tables and eight counter seats that look over the area where the meat is cut.

On the wall to the right as you walk in, there’s a small collection of gourmet food items — honey from Spain, for example — and about a dozen astutely chosen wines for sale.

No matter what brings you to this shop at 330 E. Menomonee St., you’ll find you’re in expert hands.

The owner is chef Karen Bell, who has a culinary degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Over the years she’s cooked up a resumé that reaches from Vong and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago to Madrid, where she operated her own restaurant. Most recently she was at Café at the Plaza in Milwaukee.

She also has the good fortune of having a wine expert in the family.

So when the time came to select the libations for her new venture, she turned to her sister Jessica Bell, a wine consultant and founder of My Wine School.

“Jessica has a much more sophisticated palate for wine than I do,” said Karen, who at 36 is a year-and-a-half older than her sister.

“And Karen has a much more sophisticated palate for food than I do,” said the younger sister. “Bavette is Karen’s — I simply helped with the wines. We sat down and tasted them all together. I want her vision to shine through.”

The sisters grew up in Whitefish Bay, as part of a food-loving family with four girls. Today, Jessica and Karen live next door to each other on Milwaukee’s east side.

Karen says the inspiration for Bavette came from two Chicago locales — Publican Quality Meats, which combines butcher shop, market and café, and the Butcher & Larder, a whole-animal butcher shop.

She volunteered at both places to begin learning the business of butchering.

Bavette, with its “main focus on the butcher shop,” is a departure from what she had been doing as a chef.

“But I thought — why can’t I do this? I already know a lot of the cuts of meat,” she said.

How did she come up with the name Bavette, which means flank steak in French?

As Karen tells it: “I did not specifically seek out a French word, but when I was trying to think of names and thought of this one, I did like the fact that it is French, easy to pronounce and has a butchering or meat meaning. I was also drawn to it because it is feminine sounding and being a woman butcher, I liked that.”

She says she’s always been “enamored” of French butcher shops, although she’s not trying to emulate one.

As she has become more interested in the politics of food, the idea of a butcher shop that sells meat from responsibly raised animals appealed to her.

And because Bavette is also a café, she can continue her cooking.

Asked if female butchers are a rarity, she said, “I think so — it’s traditionally a male occupation maybe because it’s physical work.”

She sees butchering as “a dying craft, with very few people getting in the whole animals directly from the farm.”

But that’s what they do at Bavette. The carcasses come in weekly, and then are cut up, often by Bill Kreitmeir, a veteran butcher whom Karen hired — and from whom she is learning.

On a recent Friday he was cutting up a Red Wattle hog that had just arrived. It’s a breed included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which catalogs distinctive foods in order to preserve biodiversity and culinary heritage.

The shop’s meat is all from grass-fed animals and sourced locally, mostly from farms in the Madison area.

“We love knowing where our food comes from,” Karen said.

And, yes, you might want to beef about the relatively high cost of the meat here.

Spareribs, for instance, will run you about $6 a pound; at a regular butcher shop, they would cost less than $5 a pound.

But Karen believes the uptick in cost is worth it because the meat “tastes better and is responsibly raised.”

“People are willing to spend a little more money for quality.”

She points to the popularity of Whole Foods as an indication that this is true.

When asked to select wines for her sister’s store, Jessica knew she had to be “very choosy” because they wanted to start with only about a dozen wines in the retail area, priced between $15 and $30.

In addition, there are five wines sold by the glass on the café’s beverage list — all $8 a glass — along with a dozen bottled beers.

“I teach classes on how to judge quality in wines,” she said. “So my goal here is to find the best quality at the best price point.”

The choices reflect the food-friendly wines she and her sister prefer.

Jessica describes the wines, which are from around the world, as having good acidity and an elegance that goes beyond simple fruit taste.

“I guess you can say these wines are more austere, made more in the Old World style,” she explained. “And there are plenty of New World producers making this style of wine, too.”

So, for example, she’s apt to recommend the more restrained wines from Oregon or Washington over California’s big-bodied, high-alcohol wines.

Bell sticks to simplicity with food pairings

For Milwaukee-based wine guru Jessica Bell, pairing wine and food is part of the fun. “It’s a puzzle I love to solve.”

Her basic strategy is to consider three things: sweetness, acid and body.

That’s sweetness, acid and body in both the wine and the food. And the idea is to match them up.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s not an exact science.

In her sister Karen Bell’s recipe for Red Pepper Miso and Sesame Glazed Spare Ribs, for instance, there’s “some sweetness in the glaze,” so that is echoed in the touch of sweetness in the New Zealand Riesling that Jessica chose.

The orange juice and zest in the recipe is a tip-off to look for a wine with good acidity — and that’s a characteristic that top-quality Riesling is known for, according to Jessica.

Pork is one of those meats that can go with either red or white wine. And in this instance, a white with some heft — more body than, say, a Pinot Grigio — matches well with the ribs.

Jessica emphasizes that the method of preparation in a recipe and the secondary ingredients are often more important than the main ingredient.

Looking at the “facts” of the food you’re considering “helps to reduce the chance of a disaster,” she said. “I could think of some really bad match-ups with those ribs. A big, heavy Barolo would be horrible — it’s too tannic for those ribs.”

Of course, there are some always-happy marriages when it comes to wine and meat.

Jessica loves simply prepared lamb with Rioja, a Spanish red made from Tempranillo grape. And with steak, Cabernet is a great pairing. For game, she’ll reach for a richly flavored Syrah-based wine.

“Why mess with something that works?” she said.

From “Milwaukee Mayor Barrett visits Culinary Arts Program showcase” – This summer marks the 12th year of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board’s (MAWIB) Culinary Arts Program at Wisconsin State Fair Park, introducing young people to food service careers by providing training, certification and connections to area employers. For six weeks, 37 young people employed through Mayor Barrett’s Earn & Learn Summer Youth Employment program are training with Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) Chef Paul Carrier. They will prepare 22,000 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the 4-H youth housed at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center beginning on Wednesday, July 31. The 4-H youth are at the Wisconsin State Fair to showcase their livestock and other skills for the duration of the Fair. The program gives young people the opportunity to have a real life work experience, earn the industry-recognized ServSafe certificate and prepare for a career in the food service industry.

Over 35 young people on the Culinary Arts Career Path will talk about this unique training opportunity. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will speak to the importance of helping young people explore career paths, including through the Culinary Arts Program. Wylbur Holloway, MAWIB Youth Services Manager will provide an overview of this highly successful longstanding program. MATC Chef Paul Carrier will provide details about training youth in Culinary Arts.


From “Nicolet offers new evening hybrid classes” – Rhinelander - Furthering your education might seem impossible to add to your already busy life. Nicolet College is trying to make it easier for adults to make it possible. The college now offers evening courses that are a combination of classroom and online classes.

“They get both the benefits of online learning as well as some face to face contact with their instructor,” says Rose Prunty, Dean of University Transfer Liberal Arts.

The classes meet one night a week and the rest is online. These hybrid courses are designed to make education an option for busy adults. “This is really to meet the needs of community members who maybe work during the day, who have all sorts of commitments during the day. So this flexibility allows students to adapt a schedule that works for them,” said Prunty.

There are more than 50 hybrid courses being offered this fall. Classes range from business, criminal justice, and culinary studies.

“I think it’s a way of getting a start. Taking one course and seeing what college is like,” says Prunty.

Class begins August 26th. Registration is open now through the start of classes. The courses will also be offered at the Lakeland Campus.

From “MATC finalists serve up heated competition” – Do you have to pick just one?

That was my thought when I looked over the contenders for grand prize in this year’s Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Three guys are finalists in the second annual competition, which is also sponsored by Reliable Water Services and FaB Milwaukee. And each product sounds like something I’d like to try.

There’s Andrew Bechaud of Milwaukee, whose Bechaud Elixing Co. is a line of handcrafted, small-batch beverages made with Wisconsin agricultural products. Consider flavors like Chocolate Chai Veloute, Spring Blossom Cherry Soda and Citrus Saffron Horchata. He’s targeting upscale grocers.

There’s Pete Cooney and his Pete’s Pops, a line of frozen treats made with fresh fruits and natural sugars in flavors that include watermelon mint, strawberry basil and pineapple jalapeño. His goal is to start with push carts and eventually get into area stores.

And finally there’s Michael Thie of Shorewood, with Sauceformations, a line of gluten-free and Paleo diet-friendly organic sauces. His StreetBeet food truck would serve up organic recipes featuring his sauces. One such sauce: tomato choka, a Trinidad specialty.

The judges will have a tough choice to make on July 31, when the finalists make their pitches in person in the student-run restaurant, Cuisine, at MATC’s downtown campus. The judging panel includes (among others) Jan Kelly, chef-owner of Meritage restaurant, Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley market and cafe, and Eric Olesen, owner and president of O&H Danish Bakery of Racine.

The winner gets $2,500 in seed money, an entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC, $500 in professional cookware from Boelter Superstore and a two-hour private meeting with food industry executives.


From “Original food biz concepts feature natural, Wisconsin ingredients” – Finalists of this year’s Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge have something in common – they all incorporate Wisconsin-made ingredients. This challenge to find Wisconsin’s next great food entrepreneur is sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Reliable Water Services a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and water softeners and FaB Milwaukee, an industry network for the food and beverage cluster of SE Wisconsin.

Aspiring chefs and home cooks entered by submitting a short application and photo of their concept. Finalists were selected based on the originality and viability of their concept and appearance based on an initial photo. Three finalists include:

• Andrew Bechaud– Milwaukee, Wis. – Bechaud Elixing Co., a line of handcrafted small batch beverages made with Wisconsin agricultural ingredients. Tempting flavors include Chocolate Chai Veloute and Spring Blossom Cherry Soda. His dream is to start a small production facility and sell to local upscale grocers such as Sendik’s or Whole Foods.
• Pete Cooney –Milwaukee, Wis. – Pete’s Pops – Handcrafted Ice Pops, a frozen treat made with fresh fruits and natural sugars in flavors like Strawberry Basil and Pineapple Jalapeno. Cooney wants to produce through a commercial kitchen, start selling via a push cart at local events and ultimately distribute through area grocers.
• Marcus Thie –Shorewood, Wis. –Sauceformations, a line of gluten-free and Paleo-diet friendly organic sauces for home chefs including Tomato Choka, a recipe from Trinidad packed with flavor and nutrients. He wants to launch StreetBeet, a food truck where he can promote locally grown food and showcase organic recipes featuring his sauce line.

Finalists will compete for the grand prize in a Food Network-style judging event at MATC’s student-run restaurant Cuisine located at 1015 N. 6th St on the MATC campus on Wednesday, July 31th at 3 p.m.

The grand prize winner will receive $2,500 in seed money from Reliable Water Services; a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC; $500 of professional cookware from Boelter Superstore and a two-hour private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Milwaukee’s Advisory Council. Judges for the contest include:

• Jan Kelly, owner and chef, Meritage restaurant, Milwaukee
• Angela West, co-founder/publisher, Alcoholmanac Magazine, Milwaukee
• Betsy Gilmore, general manager, Bel Air Cantina/Wauwatosa
• Jack Kaestner, chef instructor for Milwaukee Area Technical College
• Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley Deli, Market & Full Service Café
• Eric Olesen, owner and president, O&H Danish Bakery of Racine
• Peter Gottsacker, president of Wixon, a manufacturer of seasonings, flavors, and technologies for the food, beverage, and meat industry.

“We were impressed with the level of creativity and passion of the many entries we received,” said contest judge Eric Olesen, owner and president of O &H Danish Bakery and council co-chair for FaB Milwaukee. “Our three finalists stood out as having concepts that would not only be delicious but also marketable in our community.”

From “A taste of the Culinary Institute” – The high school students of five area Culinary Arts teachers may want to turn the tables next fall by asking those teachers what they did during their summer vacations.

The answer would be I went to Blackhawk Technical College’s two-day Culinary Institute.

“We’re here to make their lives just a little bit easier,’’ said BTC Culinary Arts instructor Joe Wollinger, better known as “Chef Joe’’ to those students who have made their ways through the BTC kitchens the past 25 years. “We’re trying to give them something they can use in a 45-minute class. This is a way for them to network and take advantage of that.’’

Chef Joe worked the kitchens on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with five teachers turned students that included what he called the southern contingent from Illinois – Jacqualine Mitchell of Harlem District #122, Jane Lang of Hononegah Community High Schools and Susan Fryer of Byron High School – and the northern contingent from Wisconsin – Jennifer Dail of Edgerton and Heather Buttchen of Evansville.

Chef Joe said this was his fifth workshop with high school instructors during his time at BTC.

The menu began Tuesday with some interesting appetizers – Crème Bulee, Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and homemade soft-serve ice cream. If those sound like traditional desserts, you’re right. But it made for an interesting lunch during the mid-day break.

Over the two days, the students also worked on a wide variety of sauces and Tapas, those small plate meals usually loaded with spices and always loaded with taste. They also spent time on what should prove to be a classroom favorite when they return to their own kitchens next fall – French-Mediterranean Style Pizza made with quick rising dough for the crust.

Teachers stand to earn continuing education credits or further certification designations as a result of taking the seminar. Yet, those teachers turned students envisioned even more rewards beyond the delicacies they were creating.

“We do it for the learning experience,’’ Buttchen said. “It makes so much sense to do something like this because it helps us keep up with what’s going on in the industry. It keeps us fresh.’’


From “WCTC’s Career Quest designed for middle school students” – Waukesha County Technical College will host Career Quest, an opportunity for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to get a closer look at what skills and qualifications are needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The three-day summer exploration will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6, 7 and 8, at WCTC’s main campus in Pewaukee.

Middle school students will be introduced to a variety of careers – including those in Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Metal Fabrication/Welding, Cosmetology and many more — and learn about the education and training needed for those jobs. Cost of the event is $100 per student. Sessions run from at 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; lunch and snacks will be provided. Registration ends June 28, and the sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited!

From the options below, students can choose two career sessions to explore: • Future of Nursing (Nursing) • What’s Up, Doc? (Medical Assistant) • Authorized Personnel Only! (Surgical Technology) • To Protect and Serve — CSI style (Criminal Justice) • Emergency! (Firefighting/EMT) • Fuse it Together (Metal Fabrication/Welding) • Precision Parts (CNC Manufacturing) • Explore Robotics (Automation Systems Technology) • Baking Quest (Baking/Pastry) • Culinary Quest (Culinary Management) • The Art of Play (Early Childhood) • Spa Day (Cosmetology)

For details on career sessions, to learn more about Career Quest and to register, visit For questions, contact John Pritchett, Career Quest coordinator, at 262.695.7847 or


From “MATC offers free culinary camps for students” – MILWAUKEE - Some local high school students can learn how to be masters in the kitchen, for free. MATC is offering two free week-long culinary camps starting next week.

MATC culinary arts instructor Mary Dess, along with student Maria Nasby, who attended two summers ago, talk about the culinary camps.

View video from

From “Tech Knowledge College shifting focus to high school students” – ROCK TOWNSHIP — Tech Knowledge College will be reborn this summer, but this time it’s for disadvantaged high school students rather than middle-schoolers.

The pre-college summer program at Blackhawk Technical College’s central campus gave middle-schoolers a hands-on feel for programs the campus offered. It continued for many years but died as part of belt-tightening measures in 2012. The new program will have the same name, but it will focus on sharpening high school students’ math and English skills so they can do well on college-entrance exams and become better prepared for college, said Stephanie Williams, student engagement coordinator.

National studies have shown that upwards of 60 percent of high school graduates who enter community colleges need remedial classes before they can take college-level courses in math and English.

At Blackhawk Technical College, 57.7 percent of the 2012 high school graduates who enrolled last fall needed remedial coursework in writing, as determined by entrance tests. Of those same students, 45.7 percent needed remediation in math and 33.7 percent in reading. Tech Knowledge College would benefit any student that plans on attending any college or university, Williams said.

The program, funded through the state Department of Public Instruction, will be able to take 80 students, divided into two sessions, Williams said. Tech Knowledge College Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the weeks of July 8-12 and July 22-26. The program is free to students entering ninth, 10, 11th or 12th grades this fall and who meet household income guidelines.

Campers also will be able to explore two of five Blackhawk Technical College program options. They can choose from culinary arts, health care, information technology, welding and public safety.

Students will begin the camp with a test so they know where they need to improve, Williams said. The program is open to any income-eligible high school student in the college’s district, which comprises most of Rock and Green counties. Free bus transportation will be provided each day from Beloit Memorial, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker high schools. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Program availability will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis until each camp is filled.

From “Waupun students offered new science options” – WAUPUN — Students at Waupun Area Junior/Senior High School are enrolling in several new, advanced courses for next year.

Two courses build on the engineering curriculum introduced at the junior high this year, and another introduces students to biomedical sciences. One course provides another opportunity for students to earn Moraine Park Technical College credit and two others develop skills that can help students get a job right out of high school.

In the art department, students can earn both high school credit and technical college credit by taking Introduction to Photoshop.

Students who are interested in working in the restaurant, food, and beverage career pathway can sign up for Culinary Arts and Advanced Culinary Arts to learn the basic trade of the culinary arts industry and prepare them for a potential career in this field.

In the business department, students can sign up for a new course called Computer Hardware and IT Essentials.

The high school is offering three Project Lead the Way courses. The courses are a project and problem-based comprehensive curriculum that is developed and updated by subject matter experts – including teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators. The hands-on learning engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to areas of study that they may not otherwise pursue, and provides them with a foundation and proven path to post-secondary training and career success in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The science department is offering Principles of Biomedical Sciences, the foundational course in the biomedical sequence. Eighty-five students have signed up for this course.

In the technology education department, Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering are being offered for the first time. In the IED class, students will use industry standard 3D modeling software. POE students will encounter major engineering concepts such as mechanisms, energy, statics, materials, and kinematics. The classes build on the skills introduced to all seventh and eighth graders at the junior high this past year.

From “The Weekly Nibble: Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge Returns” – Even if you’re paying close attention, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here’s a taste of what’s new and notable – with news about a contest for food entrepreneurs, news from Pizza Man, an anniversary celebration for Pizzeria Piccola, a cheese dinner and a charcuterie competition.

Got a great food idea? You might be the next Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur
Thanks to the support provided by the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur competition, 2012 winner Bree Schumacher effectively launched her line of healthful family-friendly products, Busy Bree’s kale-based dinner starters, to grocery stores across the Midwest.

This year, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Reliable Water Services are joining forces again to launch the second Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a regional contest to find the next great food entrepreneur.

In addition to the adult category, this year Wisconsin teens ages 14-18 are invited to enter for a chance to kick-start their culinary dream career.

Adult entries are eligible to win $2,500 in seed money, a business consultation package from MATC and FaB Milwaukee and set of professional cookware from Boelter. Teen winners will receive a $1,000 MATC scholarship, $500 in seed money from Reliable Water Services and a set of professional cookware.

Both adult and teen aspiring chefs and home cooks throughout Wisconsin can enter at by submitting a short application and a photo of their recipe or product concept. Entry deadline is May 17.


From “FVTC wins financial literacy award” – Two years ago, Fox Valley Technical College created a program that helps people budget for the future, in case they lose their job, and the state is taking notice.

The school is receiving a Financial Literacy award for its Financial Wellness Center.

Patti Jorgensen is Fox Valley Tech’s vice president of community development. She says financial planning isn’t always a topic that people think about. She says people were slow to sign up when the program first started, but now they serve between 300 and 400 per year.

Jorgensen says they require people to get financial planning help, if they request emergency funding or lose their financial aid.     

From “Referendum includes new Racine water lab” – 

RACINE — A new culinary arts program at Walworth County’s Gateway Technical College campus, expanded interior design studio space in Kenosha County and a new freshwater resource lab on Racine’s campus could all soon become a reality.

They are all part of a $49 million referendum that includes extensive remodeling, new construction to create labs for new degrees and current programs in Gateway’s three-county region. While a proposed $15.6 million public safety training center is the largest part of the $49 million referendum, expanding and creating space for new programs accounts for much of the rest of it.

Voters in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties will see the referendum on the ballot April 2.


While demand for welders and machinists has been well-publicized, there is also demand for other jobs with technical degrees, according to GTC President Bryan Albrecht. But Gateway doesn’t have the necessary facilities to meet future community needs, he said.

“These aren’t projects that someone at Gateway just decided would be nice to do,” Albrecht said. “Every project goes through an assessment, a screening process, a reflection by business and industry, (and) a comparison with data in the region.”

Racine’s water lab

Throughout the world, water is becoming a major issue, and in particular there has been an emphasis on these issues in southeastern Wisconsin, said Dennis Sherwood, Gateway’s dean of manufacturing, engineering and transportation. To help train students in the field, GTC has proposed creating a new freshwater research lab on Racine’s campus in an open area in the Technical Building.

It’s estimated cost will be $800,000 in renovations and equipment.

“Freshwater is, for lack of a better word, drying up,” Sherwood said. Gateway’s role is to train students in field testing, lab testing and helping engineering companies comply with water and wetland requirements, Sherwood said.

Gateway now offers some water classes at the college’s newly expanded SC Johnson iMET Center in Sturtevant. But the program doesn’t have its own lab, Sherwood said. The instructor has to set up equipment and take it down, Sherwood said, rather than keeping it in one set place, which a new lab would allow.

At this time, Sherwood said, “I cannot sit and tell you right now there is huge (job) demand, but it’s growing because as issues come up around the country you are starting to see more and more emphasis on freshwater.” Sherwood said it’s important to be “proactive versus reactive.” On the reactive side, you hear employers say we cannot get enough employees and cannot progress, he said. But for water, “we know this is coming, because look at all the issues worldwide.”

Walworth’s tourism industry

Besides the expanding water emphasis, Albrecht said in the western part of Gateway’s coverage area in Walworth County, there is an expanding tourism industry. Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan recently reopened, Abbey Resort in Fontana was renovated and Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva is continually investing in its facility, said Mike Van Den Bosch, Walworth County Economic Development Alliance’s executive director. He has heard from businesses about the need for employees with culinary arts backgrounds. Currently, Gateway students in the Lake Geneva area need to travel to Racine to get that training, Albrecht said, but if the referendum was approved the college could build the needed area to offer those classes in Walworth County. Along with culinary arts, Albrecht also said there is a demand for cosmetology graduates because of tourism. Many of the resorts, for instance, also have spas.

Also, both research and area employers indicate a demand for food-quality lab technicians and veterinary technicians. But the college currently doesn’t offer either of those degrees at any of its three campuses.

Kenosha’s campus

While the biggest program expansions are planned for Walworth County, all three counties have projects that contribute to the $49 million referendum.

At Kenosha’s campus, there is need for new interior design space, Albrecht said. The campus is at capacity, plus the students’ work area doesn’t have proper ventilation, Albrecht said. Working in there is like having students work in an art room without proper ventilation, he said.

“It gets intense,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht also said without renovations, Gateway plans to stop offering either barbering or cosmetology on Kenosha’s campus. Recent state Department of Licensing regulations created two separate licenses for cosmetology and barbering, and there are different requirements regarding health and hygiene that affect the lab designations, according to Jayne Herring, Gateway’s marketing director.

Albrecht said there is need for students graduating with these degrees and available jobs. For instance, approximately half of Gateway’s interior design and cosmetology/barbering students who responded to a 2011 graduate survey reported getting jobs in their field. Interior design jobs included designer, textile librarian and business owner. Barber and cosmetology jobs included barber, hairstylist and nail technicians.

If it fails

If the referendum passes, Albrecht said construction on projects could start as soon as this summer. But if it fails, Albrecht said it could take a decade or more to complete expansions, because Gateway is limited in how much it can annually borrow.

Racine’s water resource lab is a priority, Albrecht said, but every year there is competition with other projects and has no control over some costs, such as repairing a broken elevator.

It’s like repairing your home, he said: It’s one thing after another.

From “MATC scales back plan for culinary school” – Plans to build a Downtown home for Madison Area Technical College’s Culinary and Baking Institute have been scaled back after a funding shortfall prompted college officials to reconsider a new building next to its Downtown campus.

Instead, the college will pursue renovations to its existing building at 211 N. Carroll St. The plans, though preliminary, still would allow the Culinary and Baking Institute to move from the college’s East Side Truax campus to the Downtown location, but they fall short of the standalone building originally sought.

Last April, the college’s District Board unanimously approved plans for a new three-story building that would house a retail bakery, dining room and demonstration kitchen, all to be prominently displayed through windows on the corner of West Johnson Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

But with the cost of bids and contingencies totaling $14.6 million, the college was facing a $2.6 million shortfall for the project to be funded with leftover referendum money. Revisions to make the standalone building fit within budget constraints would have left the Culinary and Baking Institute less space than desired, so MATC facilities director Mike Stark suggested renovating the college’s Downtown building to include the culinary school.

“We knew as we were trying to downsize things to fit within our budget, all along it was shrinking, trying to save space,” Stark said. “It would have worked, but there would have been no room to grow.”

District Board member Joel Winn questioned why the college couldn’t raise enough money to make up the original project’s shortfall, but MATC President Bettsey Barhorst said the new proposal would be beneficial to more than just culinary students and faculty.

“When we looked at the possibility of doing it inside the building, we realized how much better that was for everyone — not just this one program,” Barhorst said.

Under Stark’s tentative plan, some of the programs at the Downtown building would be moved to make way for construction of the culinary school, and renovations of the remainder of the building would follow.

From “Milwaukee Area Technical College receives programmatic accreditations from the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation” —  Two culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, received programmatic accreditation by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) Accrediting Commission in July.

ACFEF programmatic accreditation was granted to Milwaukee Area Technical College for its AAS degree in baking and pastry, and its AAS degree in culinary arts, initially accredited in 1987, was renewed. The accreditations will expire June 30, 2014, and June 30, 2016, respectively.

“The Accrediting Commission evaluates faculty, curriculum, facilities, student services and administrative capability to ensure that the programs promote successful student outcomes,” said Rob Hudson, CEC, CCE, AAC, ACFEF Accrediting Commission chair. “We are proud to recognize Milwaukee Area Technical College’s programs as ACFEF accredited.”

ACFEF programmatic accreditation assures that a program is meeting at least a minimum amount of standards and competencies set for faculty, curriculum and student services. Accreditation ensures that the program follows established standards, has accountability and credibility standards, and maintains a high level of professionalism and up-to-date practices.

Accreditation by the ACFEF Accrediting Commission of a program at an institution is voluntary. To receive accreditation, a program must first submit a self-study. Then, a three-member team performs an on-site evaluation to validate the information submitted in the self-study, which is compiled into a team report. Next, the Accrediting Commission reviews the report, along with the institution’s self-study, and decides if accreditation will be granted and for how long. An initial grant is for three or five years, while a renewal grant is for three, five or seven years. There are currently 392 postsecondary accredited programs and 144 secondary certified programs in 351 institutions accredited by the ACFEF Accrediting Commission worldwide. The ACFEF Accrediting Commission, recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation since 1998, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2012.

From “Newsmakers Q & A Fox Valley Technical College unveils new culinary arts theater” – Culinary arts instructors at Fox Valley Technical College have a new teaching tool: the Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre.

The theater is a tiered classroom with an industrial demonstration kitchen. It seats about 120 people and it’s loaded with the latest in technology and food service equipment.

Mike Ciske, FVTC’s food services director, spoke last week about the new theater on Newsmakers, The Post-Crescent’s online issues show. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.

Can you go through some of the different cooking techniques you can practice in the theater?

We have everything from induction cooking to traditional broilers, griddles, gas stovetops, convection ovens, steamers — all industrial-grade, all restaurant-style cookware so that, when the students are in there or there are community-based events, they’ll be able to see things as they would happen in a traditional restaurant or hotel kitchen. So from that standpoint, they’ll be able to take the things they see and take them back into their labs, and be able to do them on the exact same type of equipment.

The theater does look like something off the Food Network. Can you describe the technology?

The 120 seats are tiered, and students have the advantage of three very large LED monitors that will show one of three camera feeds that are located above the cooking areas or in the back of the room. No matter where you’re seated, you’re going to get a good view. And the cameras can zoom in, so you can basically see the head of a pin on the monitors. From a cooking standpoint, you can see tails on a shrimp as if you were looking at a cookbook.

What kind of advantage will the theater give culinary arts students?

I think it does a couple of things. The popularity of the Food Network and cooking shows on TV are part of the reason we’ve had such a groundswell of new students in the culinary arts. This really brings that home for them, and engages the student who is four or five rows back and can see things and smell things. That theatricality really keeps students engaged in their education.

It also gives them the opportunity to jump behind the counter, jump behind the demo table and work on those skills — their people skills, their soft skills, their ability to share their knowledge, which is what their employers are looking for. They’re not only looking for skilled culinarians, they’re looking for people who can teach their skills as well. This is one way for them to learn that in a safe way, among their peers.

The new theater cost about $1.8 million to build, and was not part of the referendum at FVTC. How was this program funded? What part did Jones Dairy Farm have to play?

Jones is a very old, family-run business in Fort Atkinson. I had some ties with the farm, and we’ve had a long relationship with them. They were looking for a way to give back to the community — the restaurant community, the hospitality community. Through the course of two or three years, we just kept in touch and showed them what we do at Fox Valley Tech. Eventually, they came up with a challenge grant, then it was up to us to match that. That was the exciting part. It was challenging, but it allowed us to reach out to other industry partners, and get them on board with what we’re doing at the Tech.

It sounds like there was a lot of support from the restaurant industry in this area. When did they come forward?

We had over 30 donors of all different types, some of them quite large and some of them quite small. We got a tremendous amount of support from local restauranteurs, the lodging association, manufacturers. Wisconsin’s home to a ton of food and equipment manufacturers, and there were very few doors that Jeff (Igel, chair of the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Department at FVTC) and myself knocked on that we weren’t met with a very positive response. It was something we thought the school needed. We thought the students could really use it and put it to good use. The restaurant and hospitality industry are very forward-thinking that way. They’re very community involved, so that when something like this comes up, they really jump at the chance to get involved.

Will FVTC use the theater for public cooking classes?

Yes, and those classes are in the works right now. I’d imagine that a few will be offered in the spring, and I’d imagine they could range from evenings, to weekends. The theater is pretty busy during the week, with cooking classes and other FVTC uses, but I can see it being available to the community quite a bit for classes, presentations, any type of event that would need a theater. It’s very multipurpose, and I think it’s limitless what we could see in there.

From “Wisconsin’s only culinary theatre unveiled at Fox Valley Tech” – GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ) - Students at Fox Valley Technical College will now take classes in Wisconsin’s first and only culinary theatre.

Officials unveiled the $1.8 million Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre, an 8,500-square foot state-of-the-art facility to the media Thursday.

“We took every conceivable cooking delivery system, we tried to put every piece of equipment that we could possibly need to teach cooking to our students,” says Department Chair Cheff Jeff Igel. “And we put it in an environment where they’re comfortable.”

It has five-tiered rows capable of holding 120 students at one time to watch faculty at the school demonstrate cooking methods on high-tech equipment using video cameras and projection screens.

“We can max out at 150 (people), it’s not bad, it’s like Lambeau Field,” Igel says.

The facility ws funded in part by private donations, including a lead gift from Jones Dairy Farm. The theater will also be open for public use and for folks looking to sharpen their home cooking skills.

Igel says their goal was to enhance student learning for Wisconsin’s largest training provider of culinary arts.

“To be able to stand and see all of your students without looking through heads or around aisles,” says Igel. “We get a lot of eye contact, we can personalize the class one-on-one and it’s easier to take questions.”

Students will formally begin to take classes in the culinary theatre on Monday.


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