Claremore Daily Progress

January 13, 2013

Cooking with Class: NTC students demo first class culinary skills

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

PRYOR — Students at Northeast Technology Center in Pryor demonstrate skills from the first-class culinary education they are receiving while still attending local high schools.

Kevin Crowell, a Salina High School student and Amanda Simons from Sequoyah High School put their culinary chops to work Thursday evening at the NTC Culinary Open House.
The event showcased NTC’s new facilities, that opened last fall on campus and highlighted the benefits of a career education.
Instructor Scott Van Tuyl is working with the school’s administration to grow programs, including the Culinary Arts, to help area students learn skills for a lifetime.
The program serves students and the community launching them into future careers while providing a well-trained workforce, according to Van Tuyl.
Additionally, students can earn valuable college credit that can transfer to schools including the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology or locally at Rogers State University.
“It is a great deal for students. They are getting this education for about eight dollars an hour compared to $80 or $100,” Van Tuyl said.
Van Tuyl, working in his second year as an instructor at NTC, has seen substantial growth in the program.
“We have more applicants than space available,”  Van Tuyl said.
Most of the students begin the program after their sophomore year in high school with some extending into what is known as the 13 year, he added.
The program covers a wide range of cooking skills, however the coursework is not limited to knife skills, according to Van Tuyl.
Behind the scenes, students learn to budget, manage and serve along with other aspects of restaurant operations.
After completion of the program, students are prepared for entry-level culinary positions or to complete a post secondary education.
The program provides a unique opportunity as students get to work with large quantities and a varieties of foods.
“We cook for the entire campus,” Van Tuyl said. “The food we cook is sold on campus, the program is production based.”
It is a more hands-on approach when compared to a typical culinary classroom, he added.
Students handle approximately $60,000 in food compared to $10,000 for a theory-based classroom, according to Van Tuyl.
The food is sold and served on campus and that translates to lower food waste and more hands-on experience for students, he added.
During the open house event, Van Tuyl demonstrated this approach to instruction, guiding students through each step.
The team prepared Eggs Poblano, featuring a Hollandaise sauce.
Crowell and Simons took turns preparing each step of the dish, while Van Tuyl offered insightful tips.
“Hollandaise are all about temperature control,” Van Tuyl said. “If you can cook hollandaise you can cook anything.”
Fresh ground pepper has a better flavor, stone counter tops can drop the temperature of your food approximately five degrees every three seconds, Van Tuyl added.
 Van Tuyl inserted a little comic relief putting the students at ease in front of the audience.
“If your not burning yourself your not cooking,” Van Tuyl said. “It is only a burn if it leaves a mark.”
 Van Tuyl encourages students not to be afraid to make a mistake and reminded them of cooking safety.
 “Making a mistake is just as good as getting it right the first time,” Van Tuyl said.
He also explained that part of cooking is training your body to know when it is safe.
For example, when placing food in boiling water or in hot oil, it is better from a close distance versus holding the food high above the pot. 
“Nobody wants to get splashed with hot grease,” Van Tuyl said. “Get close to the liquid with your fingers instead of splashing it everywhere.”
 Van Tuyl places great value on demonstration teaching and believes it is important to guide students while they perform the work.
Van Tuyl’s method of teaching is giving the students an opportunity to expand their education and excel.
Last year, alone his students competed in a national restaurant competition, receiving medals for their efforts.
Van Tuyl’s students are getting a comprehensive instruction with a small financial investment, proving once again the value of career education.