How can you teach Culinary Education Online?
International Culinary Studio – Leading the Way
By: Cheryl Cordier
“Scam” is a word we hear often, a harsher critic we could not find. What it all boils down to is an opinion from someone who has not taken the time to understand what International Culinary Studio teaches and how. It is for this reason I have been asked to put pen to paper and answer some of the misconceptions!
To start, International Culinary Studio has been around for the past six years, since 2015. The Director, Group Executive Chef and senior employees have been actively involved in culinary education myself included, for the past 30 years. The online training platform and course materials we have used over the past six years are constantly updated. This business was not a Covid business but one where many hours of learnings have been involved to produce a delivery model that ensures student’s success.
Traditional culinary education, where the student attends a face-to-face education provider and/ or an apprenticeship model of education, has been around for many years. There is definitely a place for this type of education, however it does not suit everyone and is largely inaccessible to many people. I am of the firm belief that cooking is a passion, and many people who end up as chefs will say they cooked or baked for the first time by the age of five. The need to please people and provide for people is an overwhelming urge and forms a part of the nurturing personality that most chefs display. The fact that Culinary Colleges are so difficult to attend due to cost and accessibility means many would-be chefs never get to follow their passion. Many have worked as cooks their whole lives and will never get to call themselves qualified chefs.
One of the main reasons culinary education is inaccessible, is the exorbitant cost – largely due to the cost of setting up training kitchens and then maintaining and updating them with the newest and latest equipment. These costs along with the space required, essentially about four square metres per student in the kitchen, will then be passed onto students making face-to-face training costly. The actual ingredient cost is minimal in comparison.
For students in the apprenticeship model, many are taught by chefs during their down or quiet time. The reality is, kitchens and head chefs are mostly busy and do not have much free time to train students to meet the range of different dishes, and work with a large range of products and produce that are required of a well-trained chef. They are in a working kitchen which mainly has set menus, and these are the only items taught to the students. These students miss out on the critical range of skills required for a successful chef in training. We often hear of chefs that cannot make a “roux” from scratch because they have been taught to open a packet which is quicker and makes industry easier to function profitably.
Student chefs training online have a number of benefits: They never miss a class and have access to all course material 24/7 for the full duration of their course. They have an online library of resources which gives them full access to learn the full range of commodities, kitchen equipment, glossary of terms (with the correct French pronunciation of culinary words), short skills videos as well as a virtual kitchen. The learning material is all in bite sized modules, making it easier to study short sharp pieces and fitting it into one’s lifestyle. This makes training accessible to working people, currently stay at home people, people wanting a career change but need to keep their current jobs and of course appeals to the younger generation who are used to studying online.
Students can study using a PC and access large parts of their course via an app on their phones. If they are on public transport, they can read a module or catch up whilst waiting for an appointment. All our students have access to a Chef instructor who guides them through their programme, so it’s like having a personal chef in your kitchen! The personal one-on-one contact time between a chef instructor and a student online, is actually higher than in the traditional classroom environment across a range of mediums.
International Culinary Studio has the recognition of WORLDCHEFS Quality Culinary Education by the World Association of Chefs Societies and have registration in their country of origin (New Zealand) as a national training provider offering two levels of culinary arts qualifications. They are able to offer a Global Hospitality Digital Badge to successful graduates, endorsed by City & Guilds in the United Kingdom and recognised around the world.
International Culinary Studio have 100’s of successful graduates since inception and meet all the quality moderation requirements for a number of Accreditation bodies locally and globally.
Learning to cook online always begs the question: How do you taste the students food?
Taste is Subjective – when you and I both have the same dish created by the same chef, we might have different opinions about the taste based on our own palates (taste). In culinary colleges we teach students skills and techniques. By following a recipe perfectly they will get the same flavour profile and this is why most restaurants have standardised recipes. After preparing a dish for online submission to our chef instructors the students are then required to complete the Flavour Profile Template which enables them to learn about their flavour profiles and improve on their own dishes.
Each submission for marking is submitted via a video which is watched by the Chef Instructor and then constructive feedback given. Students are expected to be in full chefs attire and work in a fully equipped kitchen, as though in a commercial kitchen environment. Hazard registers are completed prior to cooking from their remote location whether it’s from their home or a kitchen where they are employed, to ensure the safety of the student. They will have already completed their Safety at Work and Food Safety Modules giving them further confidence to progress in a safe manner.
Whilst all of the course content are online, our students are all required to complete a number of hours in a commercial kitchen. This gives them the exposure to a professional kitchen environment and of course, the time constraints to getting a dish cooked and served under pressure and timeously. The best part is, by then, the students are more confident in the correct method of cooking and preparing a dish and thus less intimated than a trainee who gets asked to prepare a dish with no previous knowledge and setting them up to fail.
Below is a testimonial sent in by a student’s parent this week, once again proving that one can successfully complete an online culinary qualification, and, that this really suits some people!
Hello ICS Team
A tertiary educator myself, I applaud the ICS for their forward thinking approach to the provision of culinary qualifications, and their incredible care and support for their learners. ICS has very sensibly recognised that it is neither possible, nor necessary, for all learners to be physically present in a traditional classroom in order to learn and gain a qualification.
My 22 year old daughter has taken a qualification with ICS. Both she, and I, have been most impressed by the flexibility of the blended/online approach and the opportunities provided for recognition of prior learning. This model is sensible, accessible, flexible, affordable and practical. Moreover, the teachers are highly qualified and the care and support for learners as individuals is second to none, in our experience. My daughter simply would not have been able to complete this qualification through a traditional delivery mode, or without your care, encouragement and support. Thank you ICS team! You are awesome!!
Congratulations on pushing boundaries in education and being the only provider of highly blended/online culinary qualifications in NZ to be recognised by the World Chef Association. Very well done to you!