Waco Culinary Arts Texas Restaurant Association tour

(WACO, Texas) – Three representatives of the Texas Restaurant Association visited Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts programs at the East Williamson County and Waco campuses on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The association’s president and chief executive officer, Emily Williams Knight, foundation director, Heather Pickett, and chief public affairs officer, Kelsey Erickson Streufert, met with TSTC’s campus leadership and instructors.

“The Texas Restaurant Association and TSTC have very similar goals,” said Brian Bohannon, a Culinary Arts instructor at TSTC in East Williamson County. “They support Texas restaurants, and we want to place Texans in high-paying jobs in Texas. While working together, we will be able to grow our programs and fill Texas restaurants with highly trained chefs.”

Streufert said now is a great time for the association to build on partnerships with TSTC and other entities.

“I think the long term is bright,” she said.

The group learned about TSTC’s funding formula, which is tied to students graduating and getting jobs in their fields of study.

“We are putting a dollar amount on every graduate we put out,” said Len Pawelek, statewide chair of TSTC’s Culinary Arts department.

The visitors learned about the program’s hybrid format of learning, with students listening to lectures online and doing hands-on labs on campus. Safety is emphasized throughout the program.

“We try to be exceptionally real with them in what they will see in the industry,” Pawelek said.

Pickett said the hybrid model is a great way for students to learn at their pace to validate their skills.

The group also learned about how dual credit works in the program. High school students involved in dual enrollment can take the first semester of program classes over two years, Pawelek said.

The group observed students in the International Cuisine class on the Waco campus making pork and bean tamales to sell to the campus community. They also learned about the Culinary Arts program’s student-operated restaurant in Waco, which tests students’ serving and cooking skills as they get real-life experience working with the public in a dining atmosphere.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu

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