Chefs cook up career excitementPublished 4:20pm Sunday, May 20, 2012
Some of the world’s best chefs whipped up foodie-friendly cuisine and doled out career advice to Dowagiac students Friday morning in the middle school auditorium.
Members of the American Culinary Federation Culinary Team USA presented an on-stage demonstration featuring four dishes: asparagus salad, pork loin, butter-poached lobster and a BLT. The presentation was part of the Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival; the team also gave a cooking demonstration to the public Friday night.
ACF Culinary Team USA — which totals 35 members, including national, regional, military and youth teams — will compete in October at the 2012 International Lochkunest Ausstellung International Culinary Exhibition, also known as the Culinary Olympics, in Germany.
“It’s really a lot of dedication for everyone, but it’s really about the pursuit of excellence,” said Steve Jilleba, the American Culinary Federation Culinary Team USA manager and a certified master chef.
The team practices about once a month by cooking a three-course meal for 110 people. Members must undergo three try-outs before making the team.
“We’re focusing on all foods you can get in America,” Jilleba said of the competition.
The chefs explained how they received culinary training and where they work. Most work at hotels, country clubs or the food service industry.
Culinary training can range from an apprenticeship to a four-year culinary degree.
The chefs said that working in the culinary industry doesn’t mean just cooking — there are jobs in catering, food styling, food photography, nutrition, tasting, food writing and food science.
“Everyone has to eat,” said Kevin Storm, executive chef at Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Mo. “There’s always jobs out there.”
“You’re always making people feel good in this business,” said Jilleba, whose favorite food is chicken wings.
He added, “We’re also very normal.”
“I love doing this, I truly do, but coming home to Cap’n Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch — there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Joseph Leonardi, executive chef at Somerset Club, Boston.
Students and teachers were allowed to ask the chefs questions after the demonstration. Several students raised their hands when asked if they wanted to pursue the culinary arts as a profession.
Senior Caitlin Shurte, 17, has enrolled at the Culinary Institute of Michigan, where she will start classes in September.
“I really like baking,” she said. “I like being able to take more time.”