Most Yuba College students are aware of Flavors, the on-campus, student-operated restaurant. However, most are probably not aware that the effort students put in at Flavors helps prepare them to be very successful in the culinary world.
Every semester an average of eight to ten students are placed into jobs either locally or nationwide, according to Culinary Arts program instructor Chef Roy Hansen.
Three former students of his are currently working at Disneyworld in Florida; all three started as interns and now two are hired employees.
Five former students are currently working at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The students work under Toussaint Potter, who is the team’s executive chef. They prepare food for the team executives.
Students become qualified for jobs such as those mentioned above due to the extensive knowledge they attain and hands-on work that is done for Flavors restaurant. Chef Hansen said that the students first take an introductory course that covers important facets such as kitchen safety, sanitation, knife skills, and food prep and control.
However, this does not mean that students will not be cooking during the introductory course. After the first couple of weeks in which the basics are taught, students begin cooking food for service.
The class, which typically has between 25 and 30 students serves anywhere from 200 to 500 per week.
Each week, the students learn a new cuisine. According to Chef Hansen, these range from Italian, German, French, Southern and sometimes even East Indian. There is a fine dining week, during which students prepare filet mignon, lobster, and chicken marsala, amongst other fine foods. Learning all of these different types of cuisine ensures that students will be able to work in any type of kitchen.
After the introductory course is completed, students can take the Advanced Beginning Restaurant Operations course, where they will continue to improve upon their culinary proficiency while learning even more skills and techniques.
When students leave Flavors and the Culinary Arts program, they have a breadth of knowledge and skills that will aid them in finding a job anywhere in the world. As Chef Hansen noted: “The one thing about cooking is I can go anywhere in this world and get a job. Because everybody’s gotta eat.”
Note: This article was featured in the Fall 2015 edition of The Prospector.