Culinary arts becoming popular as career choice in Abilene, the Big Country

POSTED: 3:56 PM Jul 25 2013   UPDATED: 12:49 PM Jul 26 2013
ABILENE, Texas -

If you're in the market for a job or are thinking about changing careers, you might not have to look very far. The culinary industry seems to be hot right now.

Just ask Robert Powell, a culinary arts graduate from Texas State Technical College. He says even though he's thrilled with where he is now, it's not exactly where he expected to find himself.

“This is a second career for me. It just seemed like I always wanted to cook. I just never had the opportunity to go to school and learn how to do it,” said Powell.

He's not the only one. TSTC Culinary Instructor, Kayleen Moon, says many of these students are finding their way to the kitchen after trying their hand in a different field.

So why are they choosing Culinary Arts? For starters it's a relatively quick process. Depending on what you want to do, From start to finish it takes most students only a year of school. Secondly, there are so many options and openings.

“You could be in the service industry, you could teach… there are so many different types of cuisine to cook, there are hotels, there are restaurants, there are catering jobs. I've actually heard of restaurants having to close because they can't stay staffed. So there's so many opportunities in the culinary industry, in this area in particular,” said Moon.

Even though it's a promising career field, it's hard work. But something Powell says is well worth the effort.

“You can be tired from working a long shift and do a lot of work but the enjoyment people get out of the food that you cook, that's the pay off,” he said.

The TSTC Culinary Arts Program, cost about 18,400 for the entire program. There are also places like Le Cordon Bleu, The Culinary Arts Institute and other private programs that cost upwards of 50,000 in comparison.

Here is more information on the TSTC Culinary Arts Program offerings:

TSTC offers two programs in the food industry: The TSTC Culinary Institute and Food Service Technology

TSTC Culinary Institute:
The TSTC Culinary Institute program is a high demand career path that will prepare students for a variety of careers including: Chefs, Sous Chefs, Restaurateurs, Caterers, and Pastry Chef. TSTC Culinary Institute program is designed to provide students with specific knowledge and skill-sets that allow them to quickly advance into supervisory positions within the food service industry. The food service industry is growing and expanding and those businesses need employees. The industry is changing as new technologies are introduced, and change the way food is prepared. New technologies including thermo circulators, shock freezers, CO2 and HO2 cartridges are becoming more common in kitchens. Chefs work in restaurants, hotels and resorts, catering, health spas, schools, hospitals, cruise lines and as personal chefs.

Students can start the program in January of every year. Students focus on culinary classes M-TH 8:00am-5:00pm for 3 semesters (January-December). Students then have one additional semester of general education courses to get their AAS. This additional semester can be taken in the Fall (before they start their culinary classes) or in the Spring (after they finish their culinary classes). Cost of the program is $18,400 and includes chef uniforms, 4 field trips, knife set and all textbooks.

In lieu of an internship, the students run their own restaurant for 6 weeks at the end of their studies. This year's restaurant will be open for lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 11:30am-1:30pm starting October 29 through December 5. Reservations are required.

The students also offer bake sales and special lunches throughout the year. Check our website at: http://culinaryinstitute.tstc.edu/events for more information.


Food Service Technology:
The Food Service Technology program is a (6) six-course, two-semester program designed to give students a basic-to-intermediate working knowledge in many areas of the restaurant industry. With a working knowledge in several areas the student should easily be placed in the industry with the ability to increase their knowledge and receive promotions. The program will cover things such as sanitation and safety, knife skills, food preparation and cooking methods, sauces, product identification, nutrition, and basic baking skills. The program will consist of a mixture of classroom and kitchen time as well as occasional real-world meals.
Students can start this program any semester (Fall, Spring or Summer) and classes will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 5:30pm-9:30pm starting August 26th.
The cost of this program is $3,326.00

Public Cooking Classes:

We offer culinary classes once a month for the public. The next class is "Spice up Your Life with Chef Sandy Davis" on Thursday, August 8th from 6:00pm-9:00pm
The cost is $50/person

Be brave and learn how to add a little spice in the kitchen! Learn how to use different spices and herbs and liven up your meals. The results of your hard work will be dinner at the end of the class!

You can register for the culinary class and make restaurant reservations at: http://culinaryinstitute.tstc.edu/events/

For questions about the public cooking classes or to register in person, contact Cindy Brunett at (325) 672-1590

For questions about starting a new career in the culinary field, call Georgan Hausenfluke at (325) 734-3684