This fall, while many are toting backpacks full of books to and from their classes, others in our state will be packing other tools of the trade, such as whisks, knives, spatulas, and other kitchen and bakery essentials.
Michigan culinary schools are back in session! And the proof of their successes will literally be in their “pudding”–and in their sauces, roasts and countless other recipes and dishes students learn to make throughout the year. What used to be called a “trade” is now a highly specialized and rigorously studied “profession” of culinarians, all vying to make their own mark in the food service industry.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago (being generous here) that I attended my first culinary class, a “pilot” culinary arts program offered at my local high school. From there, I attended the culinary program at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and finally, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Being a product of three unique culinary programs probably influenced my decision to pursue a career in teaching culinary arts, which actually began at the Culinary Institute and then led to teaching positions at Macomb Culinary Institute, Athens High School in Troy and Monroe County Community College as well as guest lectures at Oakland Community College and Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. Of course, as part of my position at Nino’s as Director of Culinary Development, I help to develop talent in addition to new recipes and products.
As a former teacher, I know how gratifying it is to see the transformation from a tentative, amateur cook into a confident accomplished chef, although that doesn’t completely happen within the walls of culinary schools. The education of aspiring chefs continues with additional hours “on the job” to put their new-found talents to the REAL test. It’s there, out in the “field,” away from the quiet, controlled classrooms and demonstration kitchens, that they are measured. The frenzy of kitchen activity, the noise, the heat, and the pressures of pleasing customers are just some of the hurdles to overcome daily. At the end of the day, you and I become the final judges–the ones they’ll strive to please their entire careers.
If you’d like to see some of this new “talent” in action, look no further than Nino Salvaggio’s. We’re very proud to employ many current students and former graduates of these fine programs. While you might not know their names, you’ll certainly enjoy their work!
Another way you can witness our state’s collection of culinary talent is to visit one of the many programs in the Southeast Michigan area, some of which have restaurants, open to the public, where you can sample the fruits of their labors firsthand.
Here’s a list of just some of the great institutions in our area. Those with asterisks have restaurants open to the public. Check the school for days and times of operation.
HIGH SCHOOLS & VOCATIONAL EDUCATION CENTERS
Dorcey Culinary Academy (Pontiac)
* Pankow Vocational Center (Clinton Township)
Oakland Technical Center Culinary Arts (Royal Oak)
Breithaupt Career & Technical Center (Detroit)
L ‘Anse Creuse (Harrison Township)
* Chippewa Valley (Clinton Township)
* Troy Athens (Troy)
● * The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Michigan (Novi) ● * Macomb Culinary Institute (Clinton Twp) ● * Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts (Livonia) ● * The Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College (Farmington Hills) ● * Henry Ford Community College (Dearborn) ● Wayne County Community College (Detroit) ● * Monroe County Community College Culinary Arts (Monroe) ● * Washtenaw Community College Culinary Arts (Ann Arbor)
Nino’s wishes all the culinary graduates-to-be a successful academic year. We hope to see many of you in our kitchens, bakeries and butcher shops in the years to come!