Kennesaw State gives students a real taste of the culinary industry

11:55 a.m. Thursday, September 1, 2011 By Laura Raines For AJC Jobs Many culinary education…

Georgia (Sep 12, 2011)

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11:55 a.m. Thursday, September 1, 2011

By Laura Raines

For AJC Jobs

Many culinary education programs teach students the skills to work in the food industry and then send them forth to find jobs. The College of Continuing and Professional Education at Kennesaw State University has a different approach.

Students enrolled in KSU’s nine-month culinary apprenticeship certificate program learn about the culinary industry through real-world experience. Based on a European model of teaching, students acquire cooking and food-preparation skills in the classroom from chef/instructor Frazer Breckenridge, one day a week.

Students work seven-week apprenticeships at restaurants, including Villa Christina, Park 75 at Four Seasons Hotel, the InterContinental Hotel, and with local caterers Bold American Catering and Endive Catering. The four unpaid apprenticeships are 15 hours per week.

“Our students will get a lot of real-world kitchen experience before they graduate,” Breckenridge said. “That’s what appealed to me about teaching [in] this program. It’s more of a hands-on approach.”

Breckenridge, who started working in restaurants when he was 18, has performed every role — from dishwasher to busboy to chef. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he is the seafood manager of the Whole Foods store in Sandy Springs.

Although he gives lectures and demonstrations in the classroom, Breckenridge believes that culinary students need to cook.

“It takes getting in there in front of the gas range and grill and letting them do it. Practice is everything in cooking,” he said.

Among the subjects that students learn are knife skills, culinary math, nutrition and how to prepare sauces, poultry, seafood, soups, stews, sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

“For two nights, the students will be given mystery baskets of ingredients and told to create a dish or several dishes out of them. They’ll get to apply what they’ve learned and show their creativity,” said Ann Vancza, program director for continuing education at KSU.

Vancza said the school started the program in 2009 so amateur “foodies” could explore culinary careers.

“It doesn’t require any culinary background. We’ve had students start right out of high school, and others do the classes and internships on the weekends and evenings around full-time jobs because they’re considering changing careers,” she said.

Graduates have found jobs in restaurants, opened their own catering businesses or have become personal or dinner party chefs. “There are so many avenues to explore in this business,” Breckenridge said.

Practicing in restaurants and with catering companies is valuable for students. It gives them a taste of jobs in the industry, allows them to make connections and helps them get in the door.

The hospitality industry has added about 5,000 jobs in Georgia in the past year, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

“There are not as many high-end restaurants in this economy, but there are plenty of more affordable places cooking fresh — with local ingredients — who are doing business,” Breckenridge said.

Tuition for the program is $9,995. For information, call 770-423-6765 or go to .


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit