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Posted August 21, 2008 in Feature Story

Chef Boy Are We Good!

A Journey through the Culinary Arts Program at San Bernardino’s Art Institute

 

By Nancy Powell

 

The students come from all walks of life—straight out of high school ROP programs, experienced cooks looking to validate their experiences, ex-real estate agents, construction workers, nurses, even writers looking for alternative earning power in the wake of the Hollywood writer’s strike. They’ve just concluded another five hours of grinding their way through the culinary lexicon and slicing and dicing to the chef instructor’s contentment. Decked out in their by now not so starched whites and checked trousers, they sweep, wipe down counters, clear off prep tables, scrub out pots and pans—all the menial tasks usually delegated to low-level grunts. Not that they do, or should, mind. After all, it’s part of the long, two- or three-year journey towards fulfilling a passion that brought them together in the first place—the passion to cook.

 

Welcome to the International Culinary School at the Art Institute in San Bernardino, population of 250 and rising. At its start in January 2007 there were only four students enrolled with the program’s Academic Director, Chef Eyad Joseph, serving as an instructor. Today, the program includes 250 students with 12 chef instructors, requiring construction of a fourth state of the art kitchen that will cost upwards of $400,000 to outfit. Cost is no obstacle when it comes to churning out well-trained, well-educated chefs possessing a strong work ethic and name-building power. According to Chef Joseph, the program boasts a 90% placement rate for graduating chefs. Not bad in a time where job prospects are diminishing towards the odds of winning the lotto.

 

Like most aspiring chefs, Joseph first came into cooking as a hobby, a relaxing and comforting experience that dissolved his stresses. He originally studied aeronautical engineering, but after serving in the Navy as a personal chef to the captain, a light bulb went off in his mind. “I realized that cooking could be a career I actually enjoyed. I didn’t consider it work,” he says.

 

Joseph went on to enroll in the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona and served as chef at the five-diamond, five-star Scottsdale Princess Resort and the Hyatt Regency in Arizona. He eventually opened his own chain of pizza restaurants which he sold as he assumed a position as Regional Southwest Executive Chef for the Macaroni Grill, a position created especially for his managerial and culinary talents.

 

Chef Joseph sought to pass off his experiences to a new generation, and settled into teaching at AI San Diego, and then at the Inland Empire to lead a fledgling culinary arts program. As the agenda expanded, he made it a point to hire professional chefs with teaching skills and real world experience in order to provide his students with the necessary skills to survive the workforce. Under his tutelage, AI’s program has created such huge buzz industry-wide that the company has adopted the curriculum as its national standard. AI now accepts transfers into its school (the more prestigious and costlier Culinary Institute of Art in Hyde Park and Cordon Bleu do not). If you’ve completed General Ed courses elsewhere, bring it by. Even the competing certificate program at nearby Riverside Community College has an articulation agreement with AI.

 

AI currently offers two degree programs—a seven-quarter Culinary Arts (Associate’s) Degree and a 12-quarter Culinary Management (Bachelor’s) Degree. All students start off with the required Intro to Culinary Skills, the culinary world’s equivalent to boot camp, where undergrads will be schooled in proper cutting and cooking techniques, including all manner of knife cuts (one hour every week, folks) down to the 1/8 inch. The class includes three hours of lecture and five hours of kitchen work—and nobody goes any further until all the fundamentals are mastered. According to Chef Joseph, students must be able to recite names, sizes, and proper cooking methods and techniques to the bone.

“If you can survive the first quarter, you can succeed anywhere,” he says.

 

The sanitation and safety class and other General Ed courses are also biggies. Plus, a lesson in appearances—no jeans, body piercings, body art, or body hair permitted. All students are required to sport chef’s whites and kitschy black and white checked trousers (each student is provided three sets of these). No exceptions. Don’t even think about arriving at 7am for a 7am class—by then, you’re already counted as late. “You have to be in class 15 minutes before it begins to be considered on time,” says Joseph.

 

Beyond that, though, the class offerings get eclectic. There are the one week stints in World Cuisines—Latin, Classical Cuisine, Asian, Fusion—where students learn to identify food products by sight, smell, and taste, learn to cook traditional dishes, and take home their experiences with a nod towards experimentation. There’s a separate Garde Manger class (cold foods station), baking and pastry class, and Chef Joseph urges students to add value to their careers by exploring restaurant supervision and restaurant management. Finally, before graduating, chefs-in-training get to hone their cooking chops at Seasons, AI’s student run restaurant.

 

With the green trend going strong, Chef Joseph hopes to expand the curriculum into the areas of healthy and sustainable cooking. “Given the rise of diabetes and food allergies, we don’t want to be limiting,” he says. “Our food should all be geared towards the accommodation of our guests.”

 

Culinary education has been on the upward swing with the increased popularity of celebrity chefs from the Food Network. Naturally, there are those students who arrive at AI with notions of fame and fortune, hoping to be the next Bobby Flay, Mario, Emeril, or—heavens to Betsy—Rachael Ray.

 

“It’s not realistic,” says Joseph. “Just because you graduate with a degree doesn’t mean you’re a chef. The only time you get to be called a chef is when someone calls you a chef.”

 

So, what advice does Chef Joseph have for the next Iron Chef of the Inland Empire?         

“Slow down, and be the best student you can be. Learn everything you can. You’ll have plenty of time to stress yourself out later on in life.”

 

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, 630 E. Brier St., San Bernardino, (800) 353-0812, www.artinstitutes.edu/inlandempire

 

 

Culinary Program Facts:

Quarterly Tuition: $7,424

Quarterly Lab Fee: $315

Tuition per Academic Year: $22,272

 

Culinary Arts Kit: $1,320 (includes knife kits and textbooks)

Runs on an 11-week quarter

 

Associate’s Degree: 7 quarters (112 credits)

Bachelor’s Degree: 12 quarters (192 credits)

 

Reviving the Trapper Keeper

 

The last time anyone’s ever spotted the original Trapper Keeper in use was probably in a rerun of Saved By The Bell. For those who benefited from ownership of this fine piece of homework organization technology, memories of the Trapper Keeper go hand-in-hand with the many experiences of being in grade school during the ’80s (and early ’90s). The famed vinyl folder with a Velcro flap featured a safer, gentler-on-the-fingers plastic three-ring binder and a few, glossy-coated folders that often had zany designs or cartoon characters. It was several steps above having to tote a grip of dog-eared PeeChees and a subtle paradigm shift away from the traditional chromed three-ring clunker that instantly appeared comparatively archaic in the ’80s.

 

Fast-forward about decade-and-a-half since the last Trapper Keeper’s hit the shelves, as Mead’s now reintroduced the famed folder, updated to current standards in both form and functionality. Gone is the above-mentioned Velcro fastening technology that was also found on many Reeboks of the day—that’s been replaced by a cooler, quieter and far more unassuming magnetic flap. The vinyl sides are now softer, more durable and offer a better grip than the slick plastic coating of the original, and the clear cover allows the owner to drop in photos and other personal effects without having to permanently disfigure the damned binder. There are pockets on the inside and five subject dividers to ensure that the Keeper’s original goal of organization and homework protection remains a priority. However, best of all, today’s Trapper Keeper is available in colors and styles that don’t scream Screech, Zack Morris and A.C. Slater—those are memories that us thirtysomethings can easily do without.

–Waleed Rashidi

 

 

 

Look Who’s Cooking!

RCC Culinary Academy

 

What happens if you’ve got the passion to cook, got a willingness to learn, but don’t have the means? Why, to the Riverside City College of course, where tuition is only $20 per unit. Sure, the initial supply cost might sting (uniforms, knives, chef hats, shoes totaling $529.56 up front), but if you’ve got the want, this program is yours for the taking.

Despite the lower costs, entrance into the program is competitive. At present, RCC only accepts 30 students each semester into the program, so your best is to meet the respective deadlines and cross your fingers. For the winter semester, prospective students should attend an informational workshop at the Riverside campus on Monday, September 8 at 1pm, and online enrollment must be completed on Monday, October 6. As you file your online application, select either CE561 (the certificate option) or AS561 (Associate’s option). A Culinary Arts certificate is awarded upon the successful completion of its three semester program of three core classes (Introduction to Culinary Arts, Intermediate Culinary Arts, and Advanced Culinary Arts) and two elective units (either Fundamentals of Baking I or Cake Decorating I). To earn the Associate’s Degree, a total of 60 units of college work must be completed.

 

All classes are taught by experienced Chef Instructors with the goal of food prep for fine-dining establishments. The three core courses provide the basic building blocks. It’s up to the students to put into theory into practice. Newly acquired skills and techniques are tested in a real world environment at the student-run restaurant. If students find they want to further pursue their professional resume, they are invited to file applications at the Art Institute of California’s International Culinary School, where an articulation request exists between the two schools.

–Nancy Powell

 

For more information about the program, contact (951) 328-3663

 

Information With More In Store

 

In an increasingly technological learning environment, the importance of having portable, accessible and reliable file storage becomes more paramount. Schools and instructors are requiring more paperless assignments and the computer has invaded just about every academic major and concentration available. Hence, students need space to put their files—and lots of it. This is where portable file storage comes into play. It wasn’t uncommon to have a box of floppy diskettes in your bookbag back in the day—fortunately, today, those fragile, magnetic-based problem-prone suckers are obsolete. If you need to transfer some serious data, here are a few options:

 

PORTABLE HARD DRIVES: These are actual hard disk drives, just like the ones inside your desktop computer, except they’re a bit smaller (usually, they’re the same small-profile drives used in a laptop computer) and they’re in an external enclosure. Most are USB-compatible and come in slightly smaller capacities than their standard-sized external brethren, though some actually offer FireWire connectivity as a bonus. Maxtor’s OneTouch 4 Mini drive (MSRP: $169.99) is a good example, clocking in at approximately 3”x5” and just under six ounces, it’s an easy fit in any bookbag.

 

FLASH DRIVES: These little sticks are often found tethered to key chains or via a lanyard around one’s neck, and have become the de facto standard in portable storage much like the floppy disk of decades past. Holding anywhere from under a gigabyte to upwards of 16GB, flash drives are technological marvels, often reliable, robust and absolutely tiny. Reputable manufacturers include SanDisk, Verbatim and Kingston, and though the price-per-gigabyte is often much higher than that of a traditional hard drive, the portability is tough to beat.

 

MEMORY CARDS: If weight’s an extreme concern and you’re seeking more capacity than your flash drive can handle, there’s always the option of using a memory card (or multiple cards). Available a variety of formats, including SecureDigital (SD) and CompactFlash (CF), memory cards have been used in digital cameras and cell phones—and with a small, portable card reader, they’ll usually interface with most computer systems as well (some computers already have built-in card readers). The MicroSD format’s cards are the most impressive: They’re smaller than a thumbnail, lighter than a gumball and can still handle up to 8GB!

­–Waleed Rashidi

 

 

 

Be Green, Be Comfortable!

Some autumn kicks that just make sense

 

There’s a certain romance to going back to school, or starting at a new school, if you could get past the whole bit about losing your freedom and re-entering into a servitude of homework and classrooms. Part of that romance is a new pair of shoes to round out your back-to-school ensemble, the very thing for making a good impression.

 

Choosing shoes for college is no longer just about fashion, though. Often, it’s only on the first day of class that you realize the schedule that looked great on paper has you hitting all four corners of the campus with no extra time between classes. When zooming from bio-chem to management in less than ten minutes, comfortable shoes are a must.

 

But even with comfort, these days you can still express yourself. Your shoe choices reflect your life choices and though you shouldn’t judge a textbook by its cover, there are loads of options out there this fall to look good without ruining your arches.        

 

For genuine feel good shoes (and not just for your feet), invest in a pair of Simple Shoes. This California-founded company works hard toward making their shoes 100% sustainable, meaning they use natural fibers like hemp and bamboo, organically grown cotton and recycled materials. Beyond the materials, they adhere to their own set of Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines to make sure everything is made in good conditions and clean factories. They do all of this without sacrificing fashion, so you can be eco-conscious in a subtle (read: un-Birkenstockian), oh-so-cool way. Their ecoSNEAKS and other environmentally friendly shoes come in all kinds of colors and styles that don’t scream, “I’m a vegan!” yet still do their part. Check out the Cartwheel for women in a hot Bloody Mary red, and the men’s CARload . . . both have you walking on soles made from old tires.

 

When you want to dress up a little, a company founded in England in 1825 comes through on the comfort front. Clark’s was an innovator in the shaping of shoes to the natural form of the foot back in the 1880s and pioneered the use of lightweight, long-lasting materials like polyurethane in the 1970s. Available at Macy’s and other stores, they prove comfort doesn’t have to come in athletic shoe form. The Fable shoe from their Unstructured line is a lightweight slip-on for women that gives support but still looks cute with a skirt. Heading toward winter, the March boot is a nice, flat-soled zip up boot for walking.

 

The ultimate expression of sole, however, comes from Van’s online . . . where you can order your own custom kicks. Choose from the slip-on or Old Skool styles and custom color your stripes, tongue, lining, etc… so you can show your spirit with your college colors, or make matching skull and crossbones shoes for your whole fraternity. Viva la Van’s!

–Red Vaughn

 

 

Loathe and Behold

The Almighty Pulse Smart Pen!

 

OK. Now we’re pissed. Back in our day we had to actually take notes with a pen and then retype them on our computer if we wanted to be all fancy and organized. In fact, we had a word processor, so you can imagine just how enraged we are at how easy you whippersnappers have it these days.

 

Enter the product of our irk: the Livescribe paper-based computing platform called the Pulse Smart Pen, which is fancy jargon for a computerized pen, about the size of a large Montblanc, that transfers your notes, diagrams and whatever else you scribble in the margins of the Dot notebook onto your computer. Yeah, we know! The computer is embedded in the fricken pen, with audio and visual feedback (it has a microphone and a speaker!), processing capabilities and built-in memory storage for handwriting capture, audio recording (at least 100 hours worth!) and applications like one called Paper Replay. In a fricken pen!

 

We cannot stress enough how utterly destroyed we are that this is happening more than a decade too late for our benefit. But you, you can capture and synch audio recordings to notes handwritten on special paper with Paper Replay and replay the audio segments by merely tapping on what you wrote, and don’t even get us started about how much we hate you because of all the carefree sex you get to have because you have no kids or mortgage. We could just bitchslap you, you smug little coeds whose dreams have not yet been crushed.

 

You can upload your captured notes and audio to a PC where they can be replayed, saved, searched or sent to others via email or even on Facebook. We feel like slapping all your friends, too. The thing retails for $199 for a 2 GB version, or you can be a cheap ass and settle for the 1 GB for around $149. Just know that every time we zoom past a college campus, we’ll be cursing you and your fancy schmancy pen. We loathe you. Check out www.livescribe.com.

–Arrissia Owen Turner

 

 

Attention Student Parents!

Distractions for your kids

 

As the big kids go back to school this fall, our little kids still need stimulation. Pre-pre-schoolers have a full crop of DVDs coming out this week to keep doldrums at bay when their older siblings start classes. Not that we at the IE Weekly advocate excessive toddler TV watching, but hey . . . let’s be realistic, a DVD is often the only thing standing between a harried parent and getting dinner made and/or a total nervous breakdown.

 

Bob the Builder: On Site – Houses and Playgrounds (Lyons / Hit Ent.)

A mixture of animation and real-world demonstrations, Bob the Builder is a benign lesson for kids about how things are built. This episode deals with houses and playgrounds from plans up. Bob has a soothing voice and each step of construction is carefully explained with lots of visuals and friendly machines. Running time: 1 hour. Annoying music/grating characters factor: low.

 

Curious George: Sails with Pirates and Other Curious Capers (Universal Studios)

Eight adventures from good old Curious George and his caretaker, The Man in the Yellow Hat. Each episode has a real-life demonstration from kids that relates to the story. George and his pals (especially the long-suffering lobby dog, Hundley) are endearing and their scrapes never overly dire or moralistic. Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes. Annoying music/grating characters factor:  low.

 

Care Bears: Care-A-Lot Collection (20th Century Fox)

A recycling of the 1980s Care Bear series, this two-disc set has 22 episodes. Although the animation is old-style and often slightly creepy (The Care Bear Stare, anyone?), the underlying message that we should take care of each other is a good one. Running time: 4 hours, 24 minutes. Annoying music/grating characters factor: medium to high.

 

 

 

Also releasing August 26th:

 

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (Disney)

 

Go Diego Go: Diego’s Halloween (Nickelodeon)

 

Madeline: We’re Off To Africa (Tcfhe)

 

 

–Red Vaughn

 

 

Loving Those Laptops

A look at the latest and greatest, from splurging to the purging

 

By Waleed Rashidi

 

Desktop machines are great for the home, office, classroom or dormitory. But since students are invariably creatures of a transitory nature, lugging a CPU, mouse, keyboard and display from here to there is, well, tedious—hence the need for a laptop—or, for the sake of those manufacturers who don’t like to use that word, fearing that someone may actually use such a device on one’s lap, there’s “notebook”—computer. Fifteen years ago, toting a laptop across campus was a total luxury, something only trust-funders could afford to do. These days, with more schools angling towards a technological teaching focus, student ownership of a laptop has become a necessity. So, for those entering their college years, now seems to be about the proper time to wring your parents’ wallets dry on technology—just make sure you get the grades to prove to them that shelling out several hundred (or thousand) clams was totally worth it. We’ve spotlighted some good choices for portable computing, each divided into a specific spending habits, to prove that there’s a right machine available for everyone. (And yes, Mac maniacs—you’re totally represented in these ranks, too.)

 

“GOD BLESS STUDENT LOANS”

 

>>Asus Lamborghini VX3. For whatever reason, Lambo drivers love to order their cars in ultra ostentatious color schemes (have you seen those lime green Gallardos?) and it seems that Asus is able to capitalize on the auto manufacturer’s namesake by offering their laptop in super noticeable bright yellow. The machine itself is a pretty nice offering, sporting a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 3GB RAM as standard equipment, not to mention a stitched leather wrist rest. Plus, you can tell everyone at school that you own a Lamborghini. Well, kind of. MSRP: $3299; www.asus.com.

 

>>MacBook Pro, 17” 2.5GHz. The super-sized screen and top of the line processing power say it all—here’s a power user that needs the space to Photoshop the hell out of their next frat party flyer, or here’s someone who just wants the best and has the cash to shell it out. Option it out with a hi-res display, 2.6GHz CPU and 4GB RAM and you’re breaking the three-grand barrier. (And yes, all these Intel Core 2 Duo-equipped Macs can now boot Windows—game on!) MSRP: $2799; www.apple.com.

 

 >>Alienware Area-51 m17x. Yeah, you’ve got some papers to type up and some reading to do, but let’s face it, you’re a gamer through and through. Alienware makes what they call an “extreme gaming notebook computer” and it’s all about getting crazy on the graphical end of the spectrum. World Of Warcraft or not, the Area-51 m17x is actually quite the powerhouse and can likely tackle just about any computational challenge—bonus rounds included. MSRP: $2599; www.alienware.com.

 

“I CAN SPLURGE A LITTLE”

 

>>MacBook Air 13” 1.6GHz. Be the envy of all your fellow students when you slip this ultra-thin, particularly light portable out of a manila envelope, as was done on the commercials during this model’s introduction. It’s a fine functioning, powerful lil’ Mac that’s best suited for those who don’t plan to use it as a primary machine due to its few ports and lack of an optical drive—plus, that’s what the iMac in your dorm is for, anyways. MSRP: $1799; www.apple.com.

 

>>Lenovo ThinkPad X61. Remember the phrase “IBM Compatible” and who started this whole revolution of Windows-based machines? That same company’s technology is packed into the Lenovo brand of computers, which bought IBM’s personal computer business a few years ago. The ThinkPad’s been around for ages, and according to Consumer Reports, Lenovo computers are amongst the least problematic. The X61’s a moderately priced unit packed with plenty of utility from its totally trick 12” twistable tablet display. MSRP: $1506; www.lenovo.com.

 

“I DIG FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY”

 

>>MacBook 13” 2.1GHz. Apple’s entry-level offering is a compact, no fuss affair that’ll deftly handle rudimentary tasks (word processing, surfing the Web) with supreme ease, and even has the processing power to take on some medium-duty graphics and multimedia jobs. For those not seeking to stress their computing power to the absolute limit (and for those who don’t absolutely treasure every inch of their book bags), it’s a really fine, more affordable choice. MSRP: $1099; www.apple.com.

 

>>Asus Eee PC 901. This little monster (and we’re talking 8.9” of little, here) is a full-fledged Windows XP-booter, able to run some of the big boys’ toys at a fraction of the footprint. The Eee PC line-up varies greatly in performance and capabilities, so it’s best to thoroughly examine each model (there are several) before you buy to ensure it’s able to manage your tasks. The Eec PC series is very light and small, which makes them perfect for toting around campus, but you may find yourself missing the full processing power and capacity of most standard notebooks. MSRP: $650 (approx.); www.asus.com.

 

>>Gateway T-6827 Pacific Blue. If you’ve got a blue dorm room, blue college sweatshirt and a blue car, here’s a blue laptop that’ll likely match the rest of your life’s color-coordinated choices. Aside from its pretty color, the T-6827 is also a very capable machine, clocking in with a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 3GB of RAM. At just over six pounds, it’s not the lightest on the market, but if you’re willing to save cash for an extra pound or two, this might be one to consider. MSRP: $699; www.gateway.com.

 

Attention Crusaders and Those With a Voice!

 

Sharon Bridgforth is looking for a few good artists, dancers, musicians, actors, poets, closet singers and jazz lovers, and oh— if they happen to be “activists, queer people and people of color,” that’s even better. Scripps College is offering a one-month master class, Internship in Feminist Activism (ID 195), with Bridgforth for half a credit, facilitated by the artist/activist. Class members will work as cast, crew and mentees in a rigorous process that culminates in a public performance of Bridgforth’s work-in-progress, Delta Dandi, with students presenting their own work generated during the class. No experience necessary, but an interest in art as a vehicle for social justice is a plus. Delta Dandi weaves monologues, chants, choral tellings, blood memory and song to explicate the African-American experience. Bridgforth is known for a method of facilitating creative writing that she calls Finding Voice, using identity, culture, memory, family histories and dreams to articulate and examine the socio-political realities of life in a form that is part poetry, part oral history, part performance art. She has gained notoriety as the Anchor Artist for the Austin Project, sponsored by the Center for African and African-American Studies, University of Texas, Austin. Her work is punctuated by a jazz aesthetic fueled by improvisation, innovation and contrasting rhythms. The class starts September 8, meets Mondays 7–10pm and Saturdays noon–3pm. 

–Arrissia Owen Turner

 

 


 

 


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