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Veteran Discovers Culinary Passion

Veteran Discovers Culinary Passion

The Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate is an intensive nine-month program designed for aspiring culinary professionals who desire something more than the traditional, classroom-based culinary education. The program is based on the European model of teaching. Students learn in a state-of-the-art industrial kitchen and take part in multiple apprenticeships where they work with accomplished professional chefs. The apprenticeship sites provide students with the skills and experience they need to succeed in the hospitality industry.

“Our goal is not to send someone to work,” said Pam Moss, culinary arts program manager. “Our goal is to send someone to learn. We are here to make sure the students’ learning experience is expanded.”

The Culinary Apprenticeship program began in 2008 with three students. Today the program serves between nine and 15 student chefs each year and has graduated nearly 60 professional chefs.

Darrell Harpes, recent graduate of the program, shared some insight on what he learned throughout the course. Darrell, a nurse for 20 years and retired military veteran, decided that he would go into the Culinary Apprenticeship program to learn how to cook before applying to law school.

“I decided to go to law school, and I realized I can’t cook,” Darrell said. “I came into the class to learn how to cook, but it has become a passion. I’m going to delay law school for a while and cook.”

For Darrell, who is the youngest of 54 grandchildren and the oldest of 11 in his immediate family, cooking allows him to reminisce on his childhood and someone who he holds close to his heart. He recalls his first experience in the kitchen was with his grandmother at age seven.

“She had me rolling so many biscuits, I got lost in the dough,” he said. “My goal after graduation is to invite all of my family over and give them a five-star meal. My grandmother passed away five years ago and since then we just don’t get together as a family anymore.”

Culinary Apprenticeship CertificateDarrell has not only discovered a passion for the culinary arts. He has also become aware of the importance of communication in the kitchen. For him, this was no easy task. As a self-proclaimed “perfectionist and loner,” he had to learn to step outside of his comfort zone.

“Outside of the military environment, in this class I’ve learned to collaborate with people with different cooking ideas,” Darrell said. “Cooking is about collaboration, whether you’re cooking by yourself, collaborating ingredients or cooking with a group of people. I don’t think that being in the kitchen you can be a loner all the time. I’ve learned to work with people.”

On the night of the final Culinary Apprenticeship showcase, Darrell had a special message for the next group of students: “This class is a commitment, but if your heart is into it – go for it! Work with your instructors and hang in there. Nine months later, it’s worth it.”

The next Culinary Apprenticeship cohort begins September 7, 2016.

Are you ready to dive into a culinary adventure?

Darrell did it. You can too!

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