NEWARK, Ohio, July 28, 2017 – July is National Culinary Arts Month. Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) is celebrating through the recognition of culinary science technology students like Abby Waldrop. She is not only applying her education at her workplace but also using her new skills to start her own business.
"In my high school cooking club, we took a trip to COTC to meet with Chef Russo and we made delicious food. That meeting with Chef Russo and work in the kitchen verified that COTC was the place for me," said Waldrop.
She begins her second year in the program in August. Waldrop currently works at the Big Apple Café in Newark where she has been able to take on more responsibility and earn a greater salary because of her hands-on education.
"COTC has allowed me to get paid a higher wage as well as have less training time. With my experience in the program, I am able to jump in and help with whatever the manager needs," said Waldrop.
The program combines the creativity of culinary arts and the science of food. Students learn food product development skills and entrepreneurial talents with scientific and technological knowledge through courses like chemistry or microbiology combined with meat fabrication or baking and pastry.
"I have learned not only how to cook, but also how to write menus and calculate yield percentages, but the most important thing I've learned is that you cannot work alone in a kitchen. Teamwork is important," she said.
She uses the skills she has learned in both her job at Big Apple Café and in her own baked goods business. Following spring semester, Waldrop began making and selling her own baked goods, such as bite-size cheesecakes and mini pies, to earn extra money. This entrepreneurial spirit is a part of her long-term career goal to open a food truck with friend and classmate Holly Burkhart as a step toward opening a permanently located restaurant.
She also participates in the community service opportunities that the culinary science program offers including monthly lunches to benefit the Food Pantry Network of Licking County and teaching cooking skills to local children participating in the Licking County YMCA's summer camps. Waldrop intends to graduate in May 2018.
COTC's culinary science technology program is the only two-year culinary science program in the state. Graduates of the two-year program earn an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Science Technology. COTC also offers a one-year certificate in culinary science which is designed to provide students with a knowledge of food safety, an understanding of product identification/utilization and hands-on abilities in culinary skills. Additional certificates are available in basic baking and pastry skills and basic culinary skills.
National Culinary Arts Month promotes the awareness of professional cooks and chefs, as well as their contributions to new culinary trends.
Employment of chefs and head cooks is projected to grow nine percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Most job opportunities for chefs and head cooks are expected to be in food services, including restaurants. Job opportunities also will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at upscale restaurants, hotels, and casinos, where the pay is typically highest. The median annual wage for chefs and head cooks was $43,180 in May 2016.
COTC was ranked number one in Ohio and number 19 in the nation by PayScale in its 2016-17 College Salary Report ranking the best community and career colleges by salary potential. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.