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Culinary arts program teaches all aspects of the business

| March 20, 2018

Culinary arts students at the Coshocton County Career Center worked with preschoolers from Head Start to create pizzas.

COSHOCTON – Students enrolled in the culinary arts program at the Coshocton County Career Center are learning all aspects of the business.

“They are able to get their feet wet here,” said Mike Cichon, culinary arts instructor. “For some it sets them up for going on to college in culinary arts. Others will use what they learned to help them pay the bills while they are in school or go right into the field.”

Students learn about more than cooking and baking. They are taught how to prepare for banquets, food safety rules and regulations, sanitation guidelines, menu planning and design, cost control and much more. Plus course work is articulated with college programs.

“Half the class is book work and theory,” Cichon said. “If you are charging $5 for a hamburger you have to learn to think about all the costs associated with that. What did the bun and cheese cost?  What does your electricity cost and you have to pay someone to mop the floor. We also study culture awareness. With the Internet we can look at restaurants worldwide.”

Some of his favorite projects in the classroom have involved watching the students make menu items out of play dough, creating with a mystery basket of ingredients and challenging them to use leftovers for a new creation. He also recently enjoyed a lesson on homemade pasta.

“I like being able to give them a safe area to play and experiment,” Cichon said.

He also teaches his students about the Americans with Disabilities Act and helps them learn to work with people of all ages and abilities.

“We worked with preschoolers from the Head Start classroom here and made mini pizzas with them,” Cichon said. “We even had them throwing pizza dough.”

While he wishes he had more time to do hands-on work with students, Cichon is excited about the brand new equipment they have to work with.

“We had a huge makeover and are now using equipment that you would see in a commercial kitchen,” he said.

They, however, don’t just use that equipment for classroom projects. Cichon tries to have his students do community service projects as often as possible.

“It’s a way to give back and show pride in your community,” Cichon said. “It gives them ownership over what they are doing too and you get to see the smiles from people who eat your great food.”

One of their community service projects this year was preparing lunches sold by the Coshocton County Fatherhood Initiative as a fundraiser.

“We easily fed four to five hundred people,” Cichon said. “I think a hidden secret of the program is the abilities of these kids and what they are able to produce.”

He reminds perspective students to remember though that the program is not just about eating.

“You get out of it what you put into it,” Cichon said. “The more excited you get about food the more creative I can be. You need to be willing to put time into this, ask questions and practice. If you are thinking about the restaurant business as a career you have to remember too that you will have to work nights, weekends and holidays, all those times you want to go out and do stuff.”

Anyone with questions about culinary arts is welcome to reach out to him at the school.

“I have an open kitchen,” Cichon said.






Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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