By Bettina Boateng
Tapping into a career that allows you to use your skills and passion can be an ideal fit for anyone who is looking to cook up success in the Culinary or Hospitality Management Industry.
At Jefferson County State Community College, in Shelby County, the state’s longest running accredited culinary program has a track record and a recipe for creating successful culinary professionals and chefs. Jeff State’s Culinary Institute is also highlighted as an “Exemplary Institute” by the American Culinary Federation.
Seasoned, noted chef and instructor Joseph Mitchell is the program’s director.
“We are about helping students find a fit,” explained Chef Mitchell. “We want to make sure they understand what the industry has to offer. But we also want to make sure they understand what the industry expects of them.”
The school uses a variety of ways to drive this information home for its students. The institute offers four degree options ranging from Culinary Management to Baking and Pastry.
The campus is also home to the Bistro Provare–a restaurant operated by students. The Bistro offers several upscale dishes at an affordable price to customers like Barbara and Michael Wenning.
“We are regulars,” Barbara said. “We don’t want to tell too many people about it. It’s that good. It’s very, very good.”
The Bistro benefits both its customers and employees by offering students a hands-on learning environment to put their skills to the test.
“I’ve always loved cooking,” said culinary student Julian Reid. “My grandmother is a good cook. My dad likes to cook. My whole family can cook.”
The 22 year-old from Oneonta is one of more than 200 students enrolled. Reid says when he leaves Jeff State, he plans to enroll at Auburn University, and later pursue a career as an executive chef.
“It’s very affordable to come here and know you can get what is very valuable in the industry–a good education,” Reid added.
The Bistro’s Chef Instructor Jason Bierley says the value of the training found at Jeff State is priceless.
“I have folks that come in with zero experience, and when they leave here, they are able to go out and get jobs in these nice restaurants,” Chef Bierley said.
In this What’s Working report, Alabama’s 13 Bettina Boateng , Producer Robyn Sirmans and Photojournalist Ben Bryson take you inside Jefferson State Community College’s Culinary Institute and Bistro Provare Restaurant to show you how this accredited and hands-on training program is exposing and training hundreds into highly trained professionals ready to enter the culinary or hotel/ hospitality management field.