Culinary Arts Students Serving Up Success
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It’s been overheard at most Texas State Technical College functions that are catered by the college’s culinary arts students that TSTC might have the best restaurant in Harlingen.
It may be a matter of opinion but with menus featuring anything from Italian to Cajun cuisine and even simply steaks, the culinary students can back up the compliments of many.
The Culinary Arts Program at TSTC has been around since 1983 and Program Chair Carl Eads has been around for most of those years.
Eads was hired on as program chair but left after three years and joined industry. Eads returned in 1998 and currently serves as chair for the department.
Eads has seen the program grow in students and the curriculum offered and expects it to keep growing in the coming years.
When the program started in the early 1980s, there were about 20-25 students enrolled at the outset, Eads said. Today the program features over 100 students and counting.
“These guys are eager to learn,” Eads said.
And a big push for going into the food trade was the popularity of the Food Network and other food-restaurant related TV shows.
“About 16 years ago when the Food Network and other food shows on cable came along, it created a lot of interest in people with some talent for cooking to want to learn more,” Eads said. “We’re looking to add 15 more students this spring semester. And with more students we’re hoping we can add more courses.”
There are four instructors in the program. Eads serves as the department chair and master instructor. Patrick Bauer is the executive chef, Victor Loya is an instructor and Henry Ramos serves as a teaching lab assistant.
“Enrollment is steadily increasing,” Eads said. “About eight years ago, we began catering activities so we’ve added a catering class to the curriculum.”
So far this semester, the Culinary Arts students have catered seven events. Eads said the students average about two events per week.
On campus, the students catered the Noche De Gala fundraiser in December, the TSTC Foundation Dinner, the Board of Regents Dinner and a lunch for legislatures and their staffs during the legislative tour. Every time the students were showered with applause for their efforts.
“We’re evolved the quality of the food services we provide,” Eads said. “My contention is that we should support as many functions as we can on campus. A lot of groups hit us up and we’ve had to say no sometimes.”
Eads’ graduates end up in three main areas of industry. Most become chefs and an increasing number are becoming bakers or go into the pastry industry while others are opening catering businesses.
“Sometimes when we can’t cater, we’ll call one of our former students to work an event,” Eads said.