SUNY Schenectady Chefs @ Home: Faculty and Students Continue to Show Innovation, Creativity During Virtual Online Learning
During the second half of the Fall 2020 semester, Culinary Arts faculty and students went back to virtual online learning due to the pandemic. As part of their curriculum, Culinary Arts students usually learn from talented faculty chefs in culinary labs in our impressive Culinary Arts Wing on campus. To accommodate their labs this semester, faculty decided to create parcel bags with ingredients so that students could complete their labs at home. Students picked up the parcels individually at the College and followed along to videos and recipes that our faculty developed for classes including Garde Manger, Regional American Baking and Pastry, Classical Cuisine, Food Prep, Elements of Baking, Commercial Baking, International Baking and Pastry, and Quantitative Foods.
Courtney Withey, CEC and Assistant Professor in the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism, is one of the faculty chefs who created videos for each of her classes and also did live cooking demonstrations for her students. Her students used the ingredients in the parcel bags to replicate what she had made. She then had her students send photos documenting each step within the cooking process including a final plate presentation. They also wrote a final evaluation of their own process and their final results, and assessed their food in terms of flavor, texture, and eye appeal. “I love to teach and I love to cook, and with these videos I can still connect with the students, even if it’s not exactly the way we’d all prefer,” she explained. “The feedback from the students has been great. They're proud of the work they're doing and they're excited to show off their hard work.”
Just as students had to adjust to cooking in their home kitchens, Chef Withey also had to change her teaching methods to the remote format last spring through the video demos. “I tell students every single day (and I said this pre-COVID) that being adaptable might be the single most important quality you can possess in the hospitality industry,” Chef Withey explained. “This is the ultimate lesson in adaptation for us all.”