NEWARK, Ohio, July 12, 2017 – July is National Culinary Arts Month. National Culinary Arts Month promotes the awareness of professional cooks and chefs, as well as their contributions to new culinary trends. The Central Ohio Technical College culinary science technology program is starting a culinary trend of service learning.
Students in the program get the unique chance to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom to real-world cooking experiences. Each month they plan and produce an on-campus lunch to benefit the Food Pantry Network of Licking County.
"We do the monthly lunches for a few different reasons. It provides a great learning opportunity for the students to prepare and serve meals to the 'public' creating a time-stress factor in the classroom lab. Also, it helps to raise funds for the local food pantry network," said Program Director Matt Russo. Since beginning the monthly lunch productions in 2012, more than $6000 has been raised and donated.
"The students find the experience both challenging and rewarding," said Russo. "The attendees have shared their enjoyment of the food with me and their appreciation that the funds raised benefit the local food pantry."
These lunches are not the only opportunity students get to practice their skills in service of the community. Each year students help prepare the food served at the Granville Kiwanis Independence Day Celebration food tent and develop the menu for the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District's Locally Grown and Gathered Dinner. Students also help teach cooking skills to local children participating in the Licking County YMCA's summer camps.
"Being involved with these groups connects students to their community and allows them opportunities to prepare food for larger groups further developing their knowledge and skills," said Russo.
COTC's culinary science technology program is the only two-year culinary science program in the state. 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.
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.
Jobs in culinary and food science are projected to increase through 2016, with graduates finding rewarding careers as chefs, food science technicians, managers or ingredient and product developers. The average annual salary for chefs and head cooks was $43,180 in 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.