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BusINess » Business » Ivy Tech trains students for careers in culinary arts, baking, and restaurant and hotel management

Ivy Tech trains students for careers in culinary arts, baking, and restaurant and hotel management

East Chicago-Ivy Tech Culinary Intro to Baking class. Students Shawn Harvey  (left) from East Chicago and Dawah Yisrael (right) of Chicago measure 3 ingredients for oatmeal cookies. (Photograph by The Times.)

East Chicago-Ivy Tech Culinary Intro to Baking class. Students Shawn Harvey (left) from East Chicago and Dawah Yisrael (right) of Chicago measure 3 ingredients for oatmeal cookies. (Photograph by The Times.)

The hospitality industry demands well-trained, skilled employees, and Ivy Tech Community College answers that call with degree and certificate programs at three of its Northwest Indiana campuses.

Accredited by the American Culinary Federation, Ivy Tech’s Hospitality Administration Program emphasizes the techniques of such hospitality leaders as The Ritz, Escoffier, Statler Hilton and Marriott, says Rick Soria, Dean of the School of Public & Social Services.

Chef Terry Zych, a graduate of the Ivy Tech culinary arts program, serves as the department chair to the three-campus program from the Michigan City campus. Chef Elida Abeyta is the program chair at the East Chicago campus, while Chef Richard Delby serves as the program chair at the Gary campus.

Each of the three campuses offers a different concentration in the hospitality field. These choices in the fields of restaurant management, baking and pastries, culinary arts and hotel management allow students to specialize and find the career that best suits their interests and talents, Soria says.

“By choosing a specialty area, students begin building leadership skills for the profession of welcoming and serving guests,” he says. “Our graduates are well-prepared to work in the hospitality industry.”

A two-year program leads to an associate of applied science degree. Technical certificates and career development certificates in such areas as bakery and pastry arts and culinary arts are also available, enabling students to enter the workforce at an accelerated pace, Soria says. Collectively, these programs prepare students for such careers as chefs, bakers, convention center managers, event planners, restaurant managers and hotel managers.

The Northwest region’s program is exploring a new specialty: Culinology®, Soria says. This represents the unique blending of culinary arts and food science that prepares students for careers as research chefs working in test kitchens doing research and development of food products. This degree transfers to the Purdue University Food Science program and can be built upon with two more years of study at Purdue towards a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Science, he says.

Beginning in the fall semester of 2011, the East Chicago campus at 410 East Columbus Drive will also begin offering an associate degree in events management and hotel management. “Hospitality at the basic level is simply the art of making guests feel welcome. It is the largest service industry in the nation and dramatic employment growth is expected both nationally and in Indiana,” Soria says.

The event management concentration gives students the skills to organize event details such as travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, group tours, event planning and coordination. Graduates of this program are ideally suited to work in large hotels and convention centers, he says.

In preparation for careers in this field, students are available to organize large and small events at sites around Northwest Indiana.

The Northwest region’s program is exploring a partnership with the North Township Trustee’s office.

“Our students may have an opportunity to work with the North Township trustee to provide luncheons for senior citizens in various communities,” Soria says. “They will learn how to prepare and deliver mass qualities of food, keep everything at an acceptable temperature and serve these meals.”

Other opportunities take students to Aberdeen Manor in Valparaiso to help organize events including weddings.

With the hotel management program, students gain the knowledge and skills to become a successful manager in this phase of the hospitality industry.

Ivy Tech’s restaurant management provides opportunities for graduates to manage a complex operation and play the lead role in creating a great experience for customers, Soria says. This concentration includes courses in hotel and restaurant management, financial management, business, sales, food and beverage purchasing.

In addition, Ivy Tech’s hospitality curriculum helps students to pursue their bachelor’s degrees in baccalaureate programs in hospitality and tourism management at such major universities as Ball State University in Muncie, Purdue University West Lafayette and Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, he says.

Students who wish to gain skills in baking and pastry arts attend the Gary campus at 1440 E. 35th Ave., where their training prepares them to satisfy industry demands and American Culinary Federation Standards for Baker certification.

“Restaurants, hotels, clubs, grocery stores, commercial, and independent shops are constantly seeking bakers and pastry chefs with the necessary skills and experience,” Soria says.

The creation of wedding cakes is an especially popular elective in this program that is provided in a partnership with Workforce & Economic Development, he says. It’s a class that also invites community members to participate to provide additional experience for students.

“If someone becomes engaged on Valentine’s Day, for example, there could be a contest to illustrate why Ivy Tech culinary arts students should prepare the wedding cake or cater the reception,” Soria says.

One recent contest at the East Chicago campus challenged students to create recipes using chorizo sausage. The competition, sponsored by El Popular brand Mexican Food and Ivy Tech, drew 200 entries from the East Chicago campus and garnered Linda Sowell the grand prize of $100 from El Popular for her Chorizo Chili made with sweet potatoes.

First prize went to DeDe Reyes for her Chorizo Lentil Soup with second place awarded to Tony Pratt for his Two and Two Chorizo Chili. The third place winner was Rick Perry for his Corn, Lima Bean and Chorizo Succotash.

Ivy Tech’s Michigan City campus at 3714 Franklin St. provides training in culinary arts. Here students learn how to prepare an array of dishes, including soups, breakfast foods, fish and seafood, meats and vegetables, Soria says.

“Our students learn how to prepare classic cuisine as well as ethnic favorites,” he says.

“One of our instructors, Chef Deanna Schoof, teaches students how to make appetizers from different cultures.”

This program trains students for such entry level positions in the food service industry as first-, second-, or sauté-cooks, sous chefs and managers.

“The goal is to send our students into the food service industry - from fast food restaurants to fine dining establishments - equipped with manual, theoretical and technical competence,” Soria says.

Students currently enrolled in all degree programs complete academic core courses in English, communications and math as well as a life skills class called IVYT.

Soria says this life skills class, which is a requirement for students in associate degree and certificate programs, teaches time management, finances, personal appearance and study skills to encourage students to succeed in both their educational and career pursuits.

“We know our students juggle a great many things in their lives,” Soria says. “We want to prepare them to step into their futures.”

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