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Training Culinary Students & Chefs Away From Kitchen During COVID-19

Institutions providing culinary courses faced the same challenge of adopting the online class modes and moving their entire curriculum online.

The nationwide lockdown due to the widespread of Coronavirus came as a sudden halt, disrupting all our activities and, hitting educational institutes especially hard. Overnight, the institutions were to transition to an online mode of teaching. 

Institutions providing culinary courses faced the same challenge of adopting the online class modes and moving their entire curriculum online. Now, with even the best of the best training kitchens, equipment and materials under lockdown, how would such a practical art fare over a virtual medium? With virtual classes limiting the approach of practical learning, how will culinary arts students fare until campuses reopen? 

What did teaching look like pre-lockdown? 

The culinary arts curriculum is entirely based on hands-on instruction conducted in a kitchen-classroom setting ensuring the students learn the art of cooking under professionals with state-of-the-art equipment. The educators are there supervising the students and constantly providing necessary instructions and feedback.  

To create a visual image, a typical class day for a student in culinary arts would revolve around using state of the art equipment, processors and working with rare and hard to find ingredients. This familiarizes them with the advance tools used in any top-notch functional kitchens found in hotels and restaurants. With this industrial grade, professional standard equipment, it’s needless to say these types of setups are near impossible to replicate at home. So how have institutes adapted to these new changes and lack of available infrastructure? 

Practices adapted owing to the current situation 

We can see that the culinary institutions are now re-inventing and adjusting to the new situation so that the students are not disconnected from their course of study. They have strategized new methods so that the students are on track with learning with whatever tools possible.  

With these virtual classes, the instructor can be seen demonstrating methods and recipes and students are expected to follow. What might be lacking here is the in-person analyzing and feedback, however, these can still be shared online verbally. Students are given recipes to make at home along with the guidance of the instructor.  As there’s no guarantee that students have advanced equipment at home, many curriculums now focus on strengthening foundational basics and working on problem areas. 

In the current scenarios, adapting to the new methods of online training and learning are the best option available to keep students motivated and on track. It’s the best way where everyone involved can come together and share their views and connect with each other.   

Nowadays, institutes are also using this opportunity to conduct virtual sessions with industry leaders and prominent professionals by organizing engaging interactive sessions for the students. Regular appearances from celebrity chefs help keep students excited, engaged and motivated to keep learning and look forward to campuses reopening.   

It’s about adapting as best as we can before things can go back to normal 

To call these current methods of teaching methodologies for practically inclined courses ideal or perfect might be a stretch, but it is the best that we can do in the given circumstances. While the hands-on learning that these courses demand is at hold, the students are still engaged and are learning something new every day by taking part in these online discussions and demonstrations. This phase of the lockdown is a good time for students to brush up their theory knowledge and read about their subject matter and catch up on recipes. As many famous chefs have claimed in the past – it’s important to get the basics right first before anything else – and this time might be a great opportunity for many to strengthen their foundation.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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