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 Theater officially opens” – GRAND CHUTE — The new Culinary Theater at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute is officially open.

The college held a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight for the new state of the art facility. The 8500-square-foot space features panoramic vantage points for cooking demos and food preparation narrations.

Culinary Arts Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel says, “This is awesome. Having this facility puts us as a cutting edge culinary program, it’s a wonderful facility to teach in. It’s like going to teach in Disneyland.”

The new theater allows 120 people to see the demos clearly and highlights the latest in high-teach kitchen equipment.

View video from

From “Growing a community of entrepreneurs” — PEWAUKEE – As a former small business owner, Russ Roberts knows what it’s like to navigate the rough waters of starting and building a business. So he’s excited to nurture entrepreneurs through Waukesha County Technical College’s Small Business Center.

Roberts, manager of the Small Business Center, said it is a unique program that is a lot like a community service for WCTC. A variety of courses are offered at low prices, such as Business Plan Development, QuickBooks Pro, Understanding Business Taxes and Law for Business Owners.

When WCTC started the center in 2001 and brought in Roberts, who had owned his own financial planning business, to develop and run it, the college had been supporting entrepreneurs for more than 40 years. The Small Business Center has gone from a few non-credited courses and some counseling in 2001 to at least 16 classes. The center also hosts networking events and offers free one-on-one counseling, the Success Mentor Program and Take a Professional to Lunch Program.

Waukesha County Chairman Paul Decker participates in the Take a Professional to Lunch program and teaches Marketing for Small Business, which will be offered April 10 to May 1.

Sharing practical information

The benefit of taking a business class at WCTC, Decker said, is that the instructors have true business experience and share lots of practical information. “It’s kind of a way to tap the brains of people who have been there,” he said.

As county chairman and the co-founder of Maverick Innovation Lab in Delafield, Decker is invested in Waukesha County’s economy, so he is pleased with how the Small Business Center contributes.

“The essence is that the more businesses that we can create that are viable and strong, and if they get going, hopefully they are going to hire people and you are going to make the economy strong,” he said.

Roberts has a similar view. He said if you get 1,000 entrepreneurs’ businesses off the ground, it’s the same as a company hiring 1,000 employees.

“Most states don’t have resources to put behind micro-entrepreneurs. Google was a couple of guys who started out of a dorm room. By the time they figured it out and were Google, (everyone) wanted to help them at that point. We never know where the next Google is going to come from,” Roberts said. 

Rebecca Scarberry, owner of Becky’s Blissful Bakery, is also a believer in WCTC’s Small Business Center and started to teach How to Start a Food Business in 2012. The entrepreneur took Roberts’ FaSTart Workshop class, which is a four-hour informal workshop that provides step-by-step guidance, and received other advice and assistance from Roberts, which she said was a lifeline for her business.

The idea of teaching a class came about after her own business took off and people began to approach Scarberry seeking advice on how to start their own food businesses. Roberts suggested she teach a class, which now averages about 20 to 25 students each session.

“It’s real information,” she said of the Small Business Center. “It’s real assistance for our community for right now.”

Roberts said the center wants to “put support around” starting businesses. “Many times it’s lonely to start a business,” he said.

From “Menomonee Falls woman pens two books based on true events” — During her career as a journalist writing features about life in Menomonee Falls, one story stuck with Falls resident and Creative Writing Instructor at Waukesha County Technical College, Gail Grenier Sweet, for more than two decades.

The story was about “Dog Woman,” a Falls resident who lived in a farm house with her 33 Siberian Huskies. When a big corporation bought the land her home stood on, the woman’s life and mental stability began to unravel.

It took three months for Grenier Sweet to research the newspaper article that was printed in 1990 and piece together the life of the “dog woman.” Though she was able to find out details about the life of a struggling woman who found happiness and later tragedy, the dog woman was never far from Grenier Sweet’s mind.

Story tackles issues

“I felt such compassion for this woman. She was mentally ill, but I think if she would have been left alone she would have been fine and her dogs would have been fine, so being evicted was the one step that unraveled everything and it’s kind of an American tragedy,” Grenier Sweet said.

It was that compassion that led Grenier Sweet to sit down and write the details of the story that has never left her. Ultimately, the book entitled “Dog Woman,” was written, which is a blend of fiction and nonfiction. In the book, the “Dog Woman “meets a young boy who is dealing with his own issues, such as bullying at school, and a strong bond of friendship is formed.

“Dog Woman,” she said is a good read for strong readers as young as fifth grade, as well as adults as it tackles issues that all age groups can relate to from a death in the family to alcohol abuse and mental illness.

One book leads to another

Though the author had a feeling of relief after she finished “Dog Woman,” the sadness of the woman’s story lingered. So, Grenier Sweet decided to tackle a nonfiction, humorous story called “Don’t Worry Baby.”

This book was written for her children, to give a glimpse of what life was like living in 1970s Milwaukee.

“I wanted them to see what it was like. They don’t know a world with no cellphones, no computers – coffee cost a dime. Everything was so cheap. I really wrote with my kids in mind,” she said.

Proceeds benefit charity

A portion of book proceeds will benefit the HOPE Network, a Falls-based nonprofit organization that was founded by Grenier Sweet in 1982. A HOPE Network helps single mothers with expenses such as cribs and scholarships.

Both books are available on Amazon, Kindle, Martha Merrell’s Bookstore, 231 West Main St., in Waukesha, and at the author’s website Search “Gail Grenier,” to find the book on Amazon or Kindle.

She also has a blog called Gail Grenier Here that can be viewed at


WHAT: book signing and presentation at Optimist Club meeting

WHEN: 7:15 a.m. May 29

WHERE: Menomonee Falls Community Center, N8645 Margaret Road

From “Sustainability Summit broadens its focus” — The challenge of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be front and center at the Sustainability Summit that begins Wednesday.

The summit, which has broadened its focus from green energy and jobs, will host climate scientists James Hansen of NASA and Michael Mann of Penn State University.

“We broadened our title from green energy summit to sustainability summit because sustainable business practices are catching on all over,” said George Stone, a geologist and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College who is chairman of the summit. “More and more corporations in more and more industries are realizing that the triple bottom line makes sense.”

Tom Eggert, who coordinates the Wisconsin Green Masters Program, a business certification initiative, said interest is strong. He already has 42 people signed up for a Friday workshop to help businesses join the initiative, Eggert said.

The summit, whose target audience are business people and students, will be held at the Delta Center, downtown Milwaukee’s convention center.

Hansen’s appearance at the summit comes 25 years after he gained national attention as one of the first climate scientists to warn about climate change at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C.

But Hansen has moved toward activism in his calls for action. He was among those arrested at the White House last month during a protest over the Keystone XL pipeline.

The lineup for this year’s Sustainability Summit includes speakers who have been greeted with standing ovations at past summits – Milwaukee urban food guru and Growing Power founder Will Allen and actor-and-greener-lifestyle speaker Ed Begley Jr.

This year’s conference will also have an international perspective, with speakers from Germany, Israel and China, as well as local presentations from the likes of S.C. Johnson & Son, Johnson Controls Inc. and A.O. Smith Corp.

This year’s summit comes as climate change policy is again at the forefront of initiatives being pushed by the Obama administration. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Gina McCarthy, a regulator who led the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on pollution from coal-fired power plants, to lead the EPA for the next four years.

The administration is pushing carbon regulation through cabinet agencies. It faces opposition in Congress to policies such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, as Republicans remain concerned about the effects of carbon rules on the economy and jobs.

The issue has come into more focus as Americans have witnessed the intensity – and cost – of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy.

“This is an issue that’s now on the front burner,” Stone said . “There have just been a whole string of extreme weather and climate events in real time. It’s driving up costs for everybody; insurance premiums are going up. Some food costs are going up, depending on where you live. It’s going to start costing everybody more and more.”


From “New Compressed Natural Gas pump comes to Madison” — Maria Redmond made a rare trip to a gas station today. She bought her Honda Civic in October of last year. It’s fueled by CNG or Compressed Natural Gas and until now she filled her tank up at MG&E not a traditional gas station.

Today MG&E announced that with some help from the federal government and the State of Wisconsin they installed south central Wisconsin’s first public CNG pumps at the Speedway on Royal Avenue near South Towne.

Debbie Branson with MG&E says, ” We wanted to give some of the fleets in the area who are purchasing CNG vehicles an easy access, 24/7 option for fueling.”

Not only do drivers have a new place to fuel up but CNG costs about 40% to 50% less, emissions are about 30% lower and according to officials with MG&E it could help to significantly cut our dependence on foreign oil.

There are some setbacks to owning a CNG vehicle. You’re going to lose a little bit of trunk space. That’s because the tank sits just behind the back seat.

Craig Lathrop is an automotive instructor at Madison College. He says CNG vehicles can be between $4,000 and $10,000 more expensive. But he sees today’s announcement as a positive.

” There’s not a great structure yet, ” says Lathrop. ” I am stressing the word yet because there’s been great strides lately especially with the energy department and the state promoting it. “

For drivers like Maria today’s news is great. It means she can spend more time behind the wheel not worrying where she’s going to get the fuel to power them.


From “Growling online scam: Catfishing” — It’s been a hot topic since the Manti Te’o story broke. It’s caused some to re-examine their behavior on the web and reaffirmed what others already thought about the online world.

But the question remains how could a very popular public figure like Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o fall victim to a growing online scam known as catfishing?

The term catfish was made popular by a recent documentary and television show on MTV by the same name.

According to Steve Noll, a Marketing Instructor and social media expert with Madison College, catfishing occurs when someone creates a fake account or profile online with the intent of starting a romantic relationship.

It’s not really illegal and you can argue if it’s moral.

Noll says, ” It’s one of those Grey areas. The interesting thing about the rise of social media and the changes and all that is the technology has changed faster than the laws. “

For the scammer Noll says the relationship may help fill a void in their life. But for the victim the online romance can be very real and in some cases even more intense than a more traditional relationship.

To avoid being catfished Noll says a little paranoia can go a long way.

” A little paranoia can save you a lot of heartache and money loss later down the line.”



From “Experts say insurance fraud is on the rise with struggling economy” — Experts say insurance fraud is on the rise – and most insurers have become much better at catching it.

It’s a hot topic, after authorities said an Argyle man tried to kill his family and burn down his house to get $156,000 in insurance money and a fresh start in life.

Martha Lester-Mittenzwei of Madison College says insurance fraud is more common due to the shaky economy, and the need for people to look for alternative ways of getting money.

The Wisconsin Radio Network says insurance fraud is the second-most popular white collar crime after tax evasion – and one of every five adults surveyed two years ago said it’s acceptable to defraud insurance companies.

Insurance fraud takes many forms. When gas started hitting $4.00, Lester-Mittenzwei said people came up with schemes to report their vehicles stolen to collect the insurance money. That because they couldn’t sell those gas-guzzlers.

Today, Lester-Mittenzwei says most insurers have special investigating adjusters who take over when fraudulent activity is suspected. She said getting behind on a mortgage is a red flag when checking out a fraud suspect.


Fox 11 News VIDEO: Training officers for danger:  GRAND CHUTE – Have you ever wanted to see how an officer trains for danger?  FOX 11’s Emily Deem spent Wednesday morning at the Fox Valley Technical College to learn the ins-and-outs of their training.

The police training at Fox Valley Technical College includes: Shooting range simulation technology, a state-of-the-art driving pad, Pursuit Intervention Techniques and more.

From “WITC students bring technology skills to Guatemala” — It’s a different country and a different culture, but the need for technology is the same. A school of about 70 students in Guatemala only had a few computers that weren’t exactly up to snuff, “Most of them were around ten years old. The computers were very infected with viruses,” recent WITC graduate Jacob Koval said.

So every morning for ten days, the tech savvy students fixed them up. They also donated twelve laptops, “It was a way for me to take the skills I just learned and actually put them into a real world application,” recent WITC graduate Carl Haughn said.

But their itinerary had room for fun too. During lunch, the five students took a break to see the sights, and play a few pick-up games of soccer with locals. Roles reversed in the afternoon. Students became teachers, demonstrating computer and software skills to staff. As they worked to close the digital divide, they also had to overcome a language barrier.

“We had already kind of figured out what to say to get them to do what we wanted to do when giving the lessons,” Haughn said.

And they were completely immersed, living with spanish-speaking host families, “It’s always ‘buenos dias’,  or ‘buenos tardes’, they’re all very friendly,” Haughn said.

Students said it was a once in a lifetime experience, “I really enjoyed being able to use my skills to help other people out. That’s half the reason I wanted to do this program, I like helping people out,” Koval said.

And the people in Guatemala appreciated the help, and the company, “In addition to helping them with the computers, just interacting with people from somewhere else, I think they really enjoyed it,” WITC IT Network Specialist Instructor Paul Gordon said.

The students graduated just before the trip. Some are now looking for IT careers while others are looking to continue their education.

From “12 News goes in search of must-have apps” — MILWAUKEE – “There’s an app for that.” That saying couldn’t be more true now with thousands of apps to choose from and more coming every day.

But which ones are considered must haves? WISN 12 News’ Marianne Lyles went digging for what you need to download.

Milwaukee Area Technical College student Tiara Beasly’s iPhone is always by her side.

“Especially when I can’t use my laptop. It’s easier for me to surf the web, with and without Wi-Fi,” Beasly said.

Another MATC student, Bethany Batson, said her phone is her source for the news of the day.

“I’m studying to be a sign language interpreter, so having an awareness of what’s going on in the world, like if somebody talks about it as I’m interpreting,” Batson said.

People are hooked on mobile applications — from college students to Packers players, past and present.

Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley uses his phone for social media.

“I like the Twitter app. I don’t download too many apps. I’m a Twitter fan,” Finley said.

Former Packers defensive end Santana Dotson needs an app to track the weather for his busy travel schedule.

“It’s 40 degrees here. So I definitely need that and I’m coming from 75 degrees in Houston,” Dotson said,

“We’re having people realize, ‘Hey, I no longer just have to use it as a phone. I can use it for all these different things,” MATC IT instructor Larry Domine said.

In the last few years, his department has included mobile application development. What was once on your computer can now be used on your phone. The industry is booming.

“Recently, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion. Ten people with a company for an app that was only available on the Apple iPhone, and now it’s available on Android for $1 billion for 10 people. That’s how big this market is growing,” Domine said.

Like computers, games are still the most downloaded applications, so Lyles went in search of the apps that can better your life.

“I feel like apps are really what’s changed how we shop,” ShopSmart senior editor Jody Rohlena said.

ShopSmart is a Consumer Reports publication, which has researched free money-saving apps. Her favorite is one called Sale Price.

“So you find this item. It’s on sale. There’s an additional discount. You have a coupon. You put in the sales tax, and this app helps you figure out your final cost,” Rohlena said.

To get an item at the best price, download Price Grabber.

“The app is really cool because you can use it right in the store. If you see something you can find out how much other retailers are selling it for and where else you might want to buy it for less,” Rohlena said.

If you’re headed out on a trip, here’s ABC News’ travel and leisure editor’s pick.

“Another one is an app called Hotel Tonight that’s good for last-minute hotel bookings. It’s same day only, but prices up to 70 percent off,” Genevieve Brown said.

Miss America does a lot of traveling too, but she told Lyles she’s like Finley. She needs to tweet.

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun admits he keeps it simple on his smartphone.

“I don’t even know that much about technology. I have a weather app on my phone, so I always know what the weather is like in the cities we’re playing in,” Braun said.

Lyles’ favorite app is one for your health.

“I love the Lose It app. With this app I can track how many calories I take in if I want something from the vending machine, or want to eat my almonds. Maybe even if I want a piece of chocolate. It’s just another app to help you in your every day life,” Lyles said.

From “Moraine Park’s Edwards-Patterson selected as NEH Summer Scholar” — Amy Edwards Patterson, a communication instructor at Moraine Park Technical College, has been selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of six NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops.

NEH is a federal agency that each year supports summer study opportunities so that faculty can work in collaboration with experts in humanities disciplines.

“The NEH Landmarks workshop in Brooklyn will provide me with an excellent opportunity to explore digital pedagogy and place-based education,” said Patterson.

“Change and preservation, the major themes for the workshop, relate closely to the composition and communication fields, and I look forward to returning to Moraine Park with new ideas, assignments, and activities to share with my students.”

Patterson will participate in a workshop entitled “Along the Shore: Changing and Preserving the Landmarks of Brooklyn’s Industrial Waterfront.”

The one-week program will be held at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York and directed by Dr. Richard E. Hanley.

Faculty members selected to participate in the program each receive a $1,200 stipend for travel, study, and living expenses.

From “SUGAR RUSH: A Portage resident is a finalist for the American Culinary Federation’s Pastry Chef of the Year” — The cake came out of the oven with an obvious problem.

A crater had formed along the moon-like surface, putting a large dent in the masterpiece.

So like any young chef, Julia Julian fixed the problem with a ton of frosting to even out the top — creating a lake of sugary sweetness.

“There was nothing wrong with the flavor,” her mother Jackie said. “We would eat anything that was made.”

Julian was only 7 when she made her mom the birthday cake. But cooking wasn’t a passion yet.

“She was more into (raising) golden retrievers than cooking,” Jackie said.

But in a home where everything was made from scratch, the environment to learn about cooking and baking was ideal.

Almost two decades later, Julian is one of four chefs competing for the American Culinary Federation’s National Pastry Chef of the Year.

The Portage resident, who teaches at Madison College, won a regional competition April 14 in Detroit, creating a golden pineapple rum cake with passion fruit and mango sherbet.

“I didn’t expect to win. I wanted to go and experience what it would be like,” she said while taking a break from the college kitchens.

From her beginnings as a student at the college, Julian has made everything from a simple chocolate chip cookie to a 3-foot chocolate skyscraper.

But at nationals, competitors often focus on sugar work — blown sugar that becomes sweet art with a theme.

“The skill level can be very even, but (a contest) all comes down to who has the better game,” she said.

While she can create the type of desserts you see in pictures or on carts in fine restaurants, Julian still has simple sugar cravings like the rest of us.

“I tell my students, ‘I’m a baking instructor now, but I still eat a gas station doughnut,’” she said. “You’re not going to be blacklisted for stopping.”

The baker

Once a month during home schooling, Julian’s mother would pick a day for her kids to make something in the kitchen.

Home economics led to showing at the Columbia County Fair through 4-H.

But when Julian decided to go to college to study culinary arts, the idea was a bit of a surprise to her family. They knew, however, she always gives everything she has to succeed.

Julian picked a $40,000 a year school in Chicago and was accepted, paying the enrollment fees in advance.

But the realization of going to the school soon clicked.

“You can graduate with the fancy degree, but the reality of it, which most people don’t realize … you’ll be a line cook or a pastry chef for about nine or 10 dollars and hour, if you’re lucky,” the 25-year-old said.

So Julian decided to look closer to home.

“After meeting with instructors (at Madison College), that really changed my mind,” she said. “And I’m glad I went here.”

Julian wanted to be a chef who focused on elegant dishes, but a two-year wait list in the culinary program delayed that plan. She found herself on the baking side for the first year — eventually completing the culinary side, as well.

A quiet student early on in the program, Julian said she was never the one to be first to present in class.

“When I first had interest in the culinary program, or even the baking program, I wasn’t the one who said, ‘I’m going to be a line cook. I’m going to make this a career.’ I just loved baking and I loved cooking.”

Gaining experience through college and jobs at Krista’s Kitchen in Portage and a restaurant in the Dells, Julian graduated and found work at a country club in Illinois.

“I got a lot of experience, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea,” she said. “And I was a little homesick.”

She found her way back to Madison College, finding a job in the cafeteria, which she said they jokingly refer to as No. 10 can land. But, she says, a lot of food is made from scratch.

Julian was offered a job as a culinary tutor for the school, and last fall she began teaching baking classes and theory.

Now she helps students find their way.

“Some people come in and have the passion for it and they kind of have shell shock when it’s not like cooking at home,” she said. “Because it’s not.”

Fast and furious

The first time she entered a cooking contest was four years ago as part of a college team.

“We came in last,” Julian said. “We didn’t even know how bad we were. I think everyone just congratulated us for showing up.”

Recently, however, the team took home a silver in the ACF’s hot food competition.

“It’s something that pushes me to keep learning,” Julian said. “It gets me out to see what other chefs are doing.”

Julian said she was happy just to be selected to the April regional pastry competition, which has a tough application process.

Everyone was given the same ingredients and knew that going in.

There was about an hour to plate four samples and 10 minutes to present to the judges.

“I probably practiced my dessert, completed how I was going to do it, about 10 times.”

“She always … goes above and beyond in what she does. She never just practices enough just to get by,” Jackie said.

But the national competition may be somewhat blind, with chefs not knowing the ingredients.

“I’m kind of scared spitless right now,” Julian joked.

Last year in the pastry competition, there was a plated dessert, a show piece with a fantasy theme, and a small petit four dessert.

“I’ve been thinking about all three of these things but not making anything too concrete.”

Julian said if she goes on to win the national competition in Florida, the honor would mean a lot to her, but the win would also be good for Madison College, which has never had a student or teacher win the award.

“We’ve been competing at this level for four years now,” said Paul Short, culinary program director for Madison College. “We entered this level of competition because we thought it would help our program get recognition for students who want to come here, but also companies pay attention to this kind of stuff.”

The program recently got another boost with the approval of an $8 million project to build a new home for the culinary school.

The three-story building on West Johnson Street and Wisconsin Avenue will house a dining room, demonstration kitchen and a retail bakery.

While she works part-time at the college, Julian also works for Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliances in Madison as a pastry chef.

“Now I make desserts for all the sales reps who come in,” she said.

From “Home sweet (tiny) home: Fond du Lac family downsizes” — When Peter and Abby Simon decided they wanted to downsize, they weren’t kidding. The young Fond du Lac couple is in the process of building a tiny house and they can’t wait to move in.

Given the state of the current economy, they are among a growing number of Americans with ordinary lives who choose to scale down — way down.

The Simons say the downsizing — from a three bedroom, two-story home to a 300-square foot house — will bring them a sense of contentment. Many others across the country are doing the same.

“It’s about doing more with less. It’s about enjoying people and not things. It is some people’s response to the wasteful ‘McMansion’ trend,” Peter said.

Peter, who is employed as an instruction technology specialist at Moraine Park Technical College, enlisted the help of instructor Don Enders and his building trades construction students. The class is building the tiny house as part of their semester project. A couple of welding students are also assisting.

Enders said he first heard about the movement a few years ago, and is excited to be working on the project. He said the biggest challenge was working without blueprints.

“We sort of did it as we went along. It’s just like building a regular house, the size of the walls are the same, the materials are the same. It’s nice to be able to build a whole house in a few weeks,” he said.

The tiny house trend isn’t new. Sarah Susanka’s 1997 book “The Not so Big House” is credited for first getting people to think smaller when it comes to living accommodations. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, Marianne Cusato developed the Katrina Cottages that start at 308 square feet, as an alternative to FEMA trailers.

In fact, the Simon’s project started with a utility trailer.

“We had to level the trailer first so we jacked up the ends and front to make sure we started out on an even surface,” Peter said. “Then we put six and a half inch carriage bolts through the joists and the bed of the trailer.”

The mobility of the house frees the family from being tied down in one spot.

“We can build this and know that we have shelter wherever we move it. This will open up our property search options. We don’t have to find land with a house already on it,” Peter said.

With a 14-month old son, Elliot, Abby likes the idea of setting an example.

“I don’t like putting an importance on material possessions. Instead, we want to focus on each other and the things we do together,” Abby said.

Because of less storage space, the couple will keep only what they need.

Sometimes owners of tiny houses face zoning issues, Peter said. It all depends on city and state codes.

“As of right now, most tiny houses are treated like RVs, and are hooked up (to utilities) in a similar way,” he said.

The Simons first looked at RVs and campers as an alternative to their large home but Peter said the materials are often flimsy, and cheaply made.

Costs to complete the Simon’s tiny house should run about $14,000.

Whether a family of three can get along in such a small space — time will tell. Peter and Abby view it as a social experiment.

“It is entirely possible that this experiment will fail but we are going to give it our best and I’m fairly confident we can make it work,” he said.

From “WCTC instructor wins worldwide mold maker award” — Waukesha County Technical College instructor Bob Novak has been awarded the 2012 Mold Maker of the Year by the Society of Plastics Engineers Mold Making and Mold Design Division.

The international award recognizes one industry professional who has contributed to the betterment of the mold-making industry. Last year’s award winner hailed from China.

Novak, who has been an instructor at WCTC since 1990, said he was humbled to win the award and enjoys working with students.

“It’s rewarding to see these students start with little or no experience and work themselves into a great career path,” Novak said.

Novak is a journeyman tool and die/mold maker and holds a bachelor of science degree in career technical education and training from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

The Society of Plastics Engineers is located in Newtown, Conn., with a European office in Belgium.

From “Madison artist selected for elite contemporary art festival in Europe” — A Madison artist who creates complex and vividly colored paper sculptures has been selected to represent Dane County in a European event that attracts a global audience.

Michael Velliquette, 40, will spend two weeks in July as part of an elite convention of artists known as EUARCA. The gathering takes place during dOCUMENTA, one of the largest contemporary art festivals in the world, held every five years in Dane County’s sister county of Landkreis Kassel, Germany.

Last fall, Kassel invited Dane County to select a working artist to be the sole American in EUARCA. Twenty artists applied, and eight finalists were interviewed by the executive council of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, said commission vice chairwoman Jennifer Post Tyler.

The applicants were “an amazing parade of artists,” Post Tyler said.

Velliquette rose to the top for his “clear, defined vision for the kind of work he would do at EUARCA, how he would engage people there and what he would do to bring the work back to Dane County,” she said.

While at EUARCA, Velliquette plans to create a 12-by-5-foot, three-dimensional sculpture titled “The Power Structure,” along the 2012 EUARCA theme of “power and responsibility.” He hopes to build a similar piece upon his return to Madison. “I like the idea of there being these two ‘antennae’ on both sides of the globe that are connected in some way,” he said.

Velliquette, who teaches part-time at UW-Madison and Madison Area Technical College, grew up in Florida, came to Madison “on a whim” in 1997 and stayed to earn an master’s of fine arts degree from UW-Madison. He lived in San Antonio before moving back to Madison in 2007 to join his partner, organic chemistry professor Tehshik Yoon.

The dynamic use of color in his work, displayed at, “tends to give people some visual excitement — and in some cases joy — so I like that aspect of it,” he said.

Along with $1,000 from Dane County for travel expenses, Velliquette will receive a scholarship of 1,000 euros, studio set-up and a two-week stay with a local family provided by his German hosts.

From “IBM i Is Looking Very Collegiate” — by Dan Burger

Last week I was talking with Jim Buck, who heads up the IBM i curriculum at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Each year the best of the Gateway graduates find their way into jobs with IBM i shops.

It’s a credit to Buck’s dedication and understanding of the importance of blending specialized training with the ability to solve business problems. He’s very well networked in the business and education communities, and supports COMMON as a volunteer on educational committees. Buck’s efforts have been rewarded with the COMMON Education Foundation Scholarship Award and the System i Innovation Award for Education Excellence. He’s currently the president of the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association. His students are the beneficiaries.

His latest achievement involves the annual AITP National Collegiate Conference, where he spearheaded an effort to add a contest for students to demonstrate their RPG Web development skills. He’s taking 15 Gateway students to the conference for the educational opportunities, the networking experiences, and to compete in the contest.

IBM and COMMON will have booths at the event. And IBM i application development expert Aaron Bartell will be one of the session presenters. Bartell, who is one of the most active members of the Young i Professionals organization, is leading a session that demonstrates how RPG can be used to develop Android applications.

IBM has been involved in this conference for several years, but the IBM i platform is getting some much-deserved attention because of the effort Buck has put into it. He has help from people like Bartell and Linda Grigoleit, an IBM executive who leads the Academic Initiative program among other responsibilities.

Buck has a strong belief in RPG as a modern language. He makes sure his students understand it and are able to write reports and applications. But he also makes sure they have Java skills and a comprehension of cross-platform capabilities. The underutilization of the IBM i operating system opens a lot of doors to people with the talents to tap into the unused resources. It’s the future of the platform that is deeply ingrained in many solid businesses. “It’s important to the system that we get new kids with new skills into jobs,” he says. Young workers with broad skill sets and minds that are motivated by innovation are a good fit for companies invested in the platform.

“The students from Gateway Technical College provide something companies want,” Buck says. “One of my goals is getting employers to realize that we have a good program.”

Employers pay attention to the AITP Conference. It attracts talented participants who stand out. They get noticed. So do the session topics. There’s excitement surrounding subjects like social media, IT leadership, cloud computing, mobile applications, security, and enterprise systems. The corporations and the individuals who get involved are more progressive. They value education and training and they are open to new ideas and technologies.

The conference takes place March 29 through April 1 in San Antonio, Texas. You can find more details at the Association of Information Technology Professionals website.

SWTC instructor honored

February 27, 2012

From “Cutting presented WCPA Education Award” — Southwest Tech Agribusiness/Science Technology program instructor Paul Cutting, Fennimore, was recently honored by the Wisconsin Crop Production Association with an Education Award.

“Paul was selected to receive this award by the Board of Directors for his dedication to agribusiness education and providing instruction to students who have been successful in the crop production industry,” commented Rob Poehnelt, Wisconsin Crop Production Association Executive Director. “Paul has a huge impact on crop production in the state of Wisconsin and we are proud to be able to recognize his achievements.”

“I am happy and humbled to have been selected for this award and am incredibly proud the Agribusiness/Science Technology program is being recognized in the industry,” commented Cutting. “As I was accepting the award, I was amazed to see the number of my graduates in the audience that are members of the Wisconsin Crop Production Association. Seeing students continue to learn is an award in itself.”

Cutting has been the instructor for Southwest Tech’s Agribusiness/Science Technology program for 23 years. He has been the State Manager for Wisconsin Post-secondary Agricultural Students (PAS) since 1989 and the advisor for Southwest Tech’s Agribusiness PAS Chapter, which has been represented by many state and national officers. Cutting is a member at the state and national level of both the Association of Agricultural Instructors and the Association of Career and Technical Education, and is a lifetime member of the FFA Alumni and PAS Associates.

From “Career, Technical Education Continues Evolution” — Career and Technical Education Month strikes a special cord with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College this year as the college also celebrates its centennial.

Business instructor Mike Bark has been at WITC for more than a third of its existence. He has seen plenty of change since 1976, and he thinks WITC has been able to respond the evolving needs of the community it serves.

Even the basics of teaching have improved over the years, Bark says. While the traditional classroom lecture is still mainstay of college education, WITC has expanded the way it provides education. From distance learning via IP video to online teaching, WITC offers a variety of learning methods to complement the lifestyles of its diverse student body.

“Having students from broader geographic areas and students with greater diversity of ages, education level and life experiences enriches the classroom,” Bark said. “It is not uncommon to have students in our classes that are youth options students, individuals that are unemployed, underemployed or soon-to-be retirees. It is also not uncommon to have students with bachelor’s and in some cases master’s degrees attending WITC with the intent to learn a new skill or marketable trade to improve their employability.”

Bark has also witnessed an increase in rigor of the faculty. While all the faculty have career experience in the field they teach, that used to be enough. Now, faculty are required to have a master’s degree in the field they teach, and they’re encourage to continuously expand their knowledge and skills through staff development.

“While some things have changed, there are many things that have not, such as having our students as the number one reason why we are here,” Bark said. “And we continue to work with our local employers and graduates … to determine changing market trends, training needs, employment demands, effects of technology, etc. And that our instruction incorporates hands-on and relevant learning experiences.”

From “Milton woman hopes sticky stuff can be a career” — MILTON — Connie Hilton is one of those lucky people. She has found the thing she loves to do.

In her case, it’s creating things with duct tape and teaching others how to do the same.

Now, all she has to do is figure out a way to make money at it.

She’s already part of the way there. She teaches classes in duct tape design for Blackhawk Technical College, which also is where she’s going to school to learn how to run a business.

How does she love duct tape? Let her count the ways:

– Versatility—”You can do basically anything with it,” Hilton said as she showed visitors around her 10-by-10-foot basement workroom.

– Speed—Unlike many crafts, it doesn’t take long to finish a duct tape project.

– Durability—It will stand up to a lot of punishment, although it is a lot heavier than cloth, she admits.

– Ease of repair—”Just slap on another piece of duct tape.”

– Variety—Duct tape has come a long way since it was first used to seal ammunition cases in World War II. The variety of colors and patterns is amazing.

Hilton will travel to Walmart, Target or Michaels craft store to obtain colors that are made exclusively for those stores. Her most-used color is the traditional gray, because it’s by far the cheapest. She often uses it to line the insides of handbags.

Her favorite place to buy tape is Dave’s Ace Hardware in Milton because it’s close, the prices are competitive, and she likes to support a local business, she said.

Yes, she’s quite familiar with the cult favorite Canadian TV comedy “Red Green,” in which duct tape figures prominently.

No, she has never fixed a duct with duct tape.

Hilton gets ideas from books and YouTube videos, but she creates her own patterns, cutting them on a board designed to cut fabric squares for quilts.

“I do it my own way,” she said as she showed her visitors how she can take a zip-locking bag, cut it down to size and surround it with a dragon-pattern duct tape, soon producing a zip-locked coin purse.

She’s been doing needlepoint and other crafts for years. About a year ago, she interviewed for the position of craft instructor at the Hidden Valley RV Resort in Newville.

She needed a quick demonstration, so she made something with duct tape. She got the job and had the best time teaching vacationers.

She later got a steady gig teaching the senior citizens at The Gathering Place in Milton. One project involved multicolored duct-tape poinsettias for the Christmas season.

Hilton has become so well known that she rarely goes out in Milton without someone pointing her out as “the duct tape lady.”

“I knew I liked doing it, but until I started doing it last summer down at the campground, I didn’t know that I loved it,” she said. “And who wouldn’t like to do the thing that they love?”

She has worked plenty of jobs, mostly in retail. She was laid off from Lab Safety Supply, giving her the opportunity to do what she always wanted to do: go back to school. She’s one semester away from an associate degree in business.

Hilton is not the first person to make flowers and handbags with duct tape. But she hopes to make a career out of it. She’s hoping to provide entertainment at children’s parties and teach crafts. She also sells her creations on, a website that specializes in helping people sell homemade wares.

Most of the things she makes are containers—purses and all manner of handbags. She designed one to protect her Kindle, one for her laptop computer.

She also makes flip-flop house slippers, wall art and fantastical flowers.

“Every project that I make is something new. Every project I make, I’m excited about it,” she said.

Hilton also gets a kick out of teaching adults as well as children.

“I am a student, and I need this job. But I also want to do it. I really want people to learn,” she said.

Hilton’s crafty ways with duct tape also have become her solution to the age-old problem: the high cost of accessorizing. She always has a purse that matches what she is wearing, she said.

And if she doesn’t, she can quickly make one.

From “Future 15″ — Matthew Petersen isn’t your stereotypical scientist –old, messy hair, a mad twinkle in his eye. In fact, at 31-years-old, Petersen is younger than the majority of his students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

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From “Wisconsin, African farmers join in soil-building project” —  Tony and Dela Ends, formerly of Hendersonville and now farming in Wisconsin, are volunteering in January to teach West African farmers composting techniques.

America’s oldest non-profit cooperative development program is sending the organic vegetable growers to Senegal. The ongoing soil-building project in that Atlantic Coastal nation is one of 20 long-term initiatives on three continents of the National Cooperative Business Association.

Tony Ends, who turned 21 in Senegal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, is going back to that nation for the first time in 35 years. Tony Ends taught English for two years in a public school in Senegal. He then worked in newspapers for 14 years, including nearly five years as a copy editor at the Hendersonville Times-News.

With his wife Dela and family, Tony worked to establish Scotch Hill Farm on returning to Wisconsin to work for the Janesville Gazette 18 years ago. The certified organic farm, 17 miles west of Janesville, now grows more than 100 varieties of vegetables, small grains and hay on 41 acres.

While living in Hendersonville, Tony and Dela hosted Hamidou Sakhanokho, who completed studies for a two-year horticulture degree at then Blue Ridge Technical College. Hamidou went on to complete agriculture and plant sciences degrees and earning master’s and doctoral degrees. He is a researcher for the USDA in Alabama.

Composting is a method of blending different types of decaying plant and animal matter to make humus. It is one of the ways organic growers restore and enrich soil for cultivating crops.

Senegal, a nation about the size of South Dakota, lies on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Farmers in much of the region struggle to produce grain from sorghum, millet, corn and peanuts in soil types where sand predominates in often hot, dry climate.

After the two-week assignment in Senegal, the Ends will return from Africa through Europe. They will interview students for farm internships and give talks on organic agriculture at a school near Sulzburg, Austria. They also hope to visit oil seed crop farms that process their own food-grade vegetable oils and make bio-fuels on-farm.

Dela, the daughter of Jim and Nancy Morton, has been teaching organic gardening for several years at Blackhawk Technical College in Monroe. Tony has also worked with soil scientists, agronomists and educators as a communications coordinator and grant writer in sustainable agriculture research.

The NCBA helped found and fund in 1945 the program that became CARE, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe. It has since been active in more than 100 countries with more than 200 programs to build democratic institutions and provide technical assistance to grassroots development efforts abroad.

From “Technical college students prepare for global economy” — Wisconsin’s technical colleges are expanding opportunities for international education to support a growing number of Wisconsin companies doing business worldwide. As companies expand operations and distribute products globally, they are looking for more graduates with international competencies.

According to local industry representatives, graduates of any business program should demonstrate the following international competencies: Political and legal affairs, language and communication, intercultural communication, economics and trade, geography, current events and study or travel abroad.

However, the vision for international education goes farther than just business programs. Technical college staff are researching curriculum mapping of international education content in all departments of the colleges.

“Colleges are making a wide variety of offerings available, from on-campus events, study abroad opportunities, bringing in international students to our campuses and student exchanges,” says Kelly Holtmeier, chair of the Wisconsin Technical College System’s International Education Committee.

From “Eau Claire selects new fire chief” — The Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission is pleased to announce, after conducting a nationwide search, that Lyle N. Koerner Jr. has been appointed to the position of Fire Chief for the City of Eau Claire. Koerner started his firefighting career as a volunteer firefighter for the Hazlehurst Volunteer Fire Department in 1979 and joined the Eau Claire Fire Department in 1983. He has successfully risen through the ranks of the Department and is currently the Deputy Chief of Operations, a position he has held since 2001.

Jack Postlewaite, President of the Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission, stated “I’m very pleased with the results of our recruitment process. Lyle is a competent and dedicated fire professional, and will serve the community very well as Fire Chief.”

Koerner holds a Master of Science degree in Risk Control from the University of Wisconsin – Stout, a Bachelor of Science in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati, and an Associate degree in Applied Science – Fire Protection Technology from the Fox Valley Technical Institute. He also is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program offered by the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Koerner is a current member of the State Fire Chiefs Association, Eau Claire County Fire Chiefs Association (including serving as President from 2002-2006), and Wisconsin Society of Fire Service Instructors. In addition to his association activities, he is an Instructor of Fire Services for the Chippewa Valley Technical College and a Lecturer for the University of Wisconsin – Stout where he teaches a course in Fire Protection and Prevention.

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From “Entrepreneurs venture into aquaponics to benefit Fox Valley communities” — TOWN OF NEENAH — Come Christmastime, entrepreneurs Steve Catlin, Calvin Andersen and Alex Fehrenbach plan to have fresh, locally grown lettuce and basil for sale for Fox Valley residents and restaurants.

Within a year, they also hope to have hundreds of bluegill or perch ready for consumption.

The produce and fish will be grown and raised together in an aquaponic system that the trio will build at a farmette owned by Catlin’s parents at 1535 S. Park Ave.

The partners have secured about $25,000 of the estimated $35,000 in startup costs necessary for their company, Grow Local. They intend to break ground this week for the construction of a 20-by-96-foot greenhouse.

“We’re moving along,” Catlin said. “It’s very exciting.”

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