A taste of the Culinary Institute

The high school students of five area Culinary Arts teachers may want to turn the tables next fall by asking those teachers what they did during their summer vacations.

The answer would be I went to Blackhawk Technical College’s two-day Culinary Institute.

“We’re here to make their lives just a little bit easier,’’ said BTC Culinary Arts instructor Joe Wollinger, better known as “Chef Joe’’ to those students who have made their ways through the BTC kitchens the past 25 years. “We’re trying to give them something they can use in a 45-minute class. This is a way for them to network and take advantage of that.’’

Chef Joe worked the kitchens on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with five teachers turned students that included what he called the southern contingent from Illinois – Jacqualine Mitchell of Harlem District #122, Jane Lang of Hononegah Community High Schools and Susan Fryer of Byron High School – and the northern contingent from Wisconsin – Jennifer Dail of Edgerton and Heather Buttchen of Evansville.

Chef Joe said this was his fifth workshop with high school instructors during his time at BTC.

The menu began Tuesday with some interesting appetizers – Crème Bulee, Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and homemade soft-serve ice cream. If those sound like traditional desserts, you’re right. But it made for an interesting lunch during the mid-day break.

Over the two days, the students also worked on a wide variety of sauces and Tapas, those small plate meals usually loaded with spices and always loaded with taste. They also spent time on what should prove to be a classroom favorite when they return to their own kitchens next fall – French-Mediterranean Style Pizza made with quick rising dough for the crust.

Teachers stand to earn continuing education credits or further certification designations as a result of taking the seminar. Yet, those teachers turned students envisioned even more rewards beyond the delicacies they were creating.

“We do it for the learning experience,’’ Buttchen said. “It makes so much sense to do something like this because it helps us keep up with what’s going on in the industry. It keeps us fresh.’’   

 For more information on BTC’s Culinary Arts programs, check http://www.blackhawk.edu/BusinessandInformationTechnology/CulinaryArts.aspx. And be sure to check the BTC Facebook page for that pizza recipe, which was posted on Wednesday, June 19.