Program holds weekly meals for real-world practice
While many students get stuck repeatedly looking at pages of text, some at Del Mar College get to learn by stirring and cooking up food.
The Del Mar Culinary Arts program prepares students with a passion for food to become professionals in the food industry.
“We’re trying to build future chefs. We train our students to ultimately become executive chefs in their own respective fields,” said Chef Israel “Izzy” Villanueva, culinary arts instructor.
Villanueva said the program at DMC is very diverse, with students who range from 16 to 60 years old. Some of the students aspire to become chefs, and others study restaurant management.
“We have a course that’s called Management of Food Production and Services. It introduces students to the closest thing they’ll get to being a real manager in the industry,” Villanueva said.
To help these students learn managerial responsibilities, the culinary arts program hosts a lunch every Thursday throughout the semester, except for spring break. During this cafeteria-style lunch, a different student is picked to set up the meal.
“They have to choose the items to be served, and have to make sure that the service and quality is up to standards. With around 100 guests typically showing up to these lunches, the student in charge gets to experience the pressures and duties of a real restaurant manager,” Villanueva said.
Aside from the Thursday lunches, Villanueva and his students also prepare and serve three international cuisine dinners throughout the course of the semester.
“We do three International cuisine dinners: Middle East to Europe, Cuisine of the Americas and Asian Cuisine,” Villanueva said.
The first of these three dinners was Middle East to Europe. The four-course dinner featured dishes such as Baba Ghanoush, Lobster and Sea Scallop Bisque, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, and Italian Love Cake, to name a few.
The dinner had 40 attendees, and while some might have had trouble pronouncing the names of the dishes, their taste buds all said one word, “delicious.”
“For me it was like taking a trip around the world through food,” said Mike Bratten, College Relations communications specialist.
Bratten said he enjoyed the meal and the Lobster and Sea Scallop Bisque he had was “as good as anything I’ve ever had.”
During these dinners the students also chat with the guests. The students involved with the dinner do it voluntarily.
“The students all made it on their own time and their passion is reflected in the food they made,” Bratten added.
Villanueva said culinary arts is also involved with the community. One place where students can be seen is at the local Corpus Christi Farmers Market.
“The DMC students come here to do demos and give people free food,” said Tevin Gray, farmers market organizer.
He said the foods they serve at the market are made from farm fresh ingredients all produced locally.
“We want to encourage people that farm fresh means better food. That’s what we do here with the Del Mar student — promoting a good and fresh life,” Gray said.