Through Kitchen Academy at Lynn University, students collaborate with chefs to get hands-on culinary experience, bridging the gap between dining staff and students—and allowing them to build a community.
The program is brought to the Florida university by Sodexo, which runs its foodservice department, and sessions are held at least twice a semester.
“It helps bring us together, and it brings a more personal side of our culinary staff, of our program, and also a personal side of our students,” said Sam Ramos, general manager of dining services.
Tracy Miller, director of operations at Lynn University, said the program also helps provide a fresh experience to students and was created in part to “bring something new to the Lynn community.”
Kitchen Academy starts with a quick introduction from the chef, who walks through the recipe of the day. Then, students prepare their own food with the chef nearby to lend a hand. Additionally, the students learn essential culinary skills, including food safety, knife skills and cleanliness.
Ramos said some of the students had limited cooking experience when they started the program.
It helps the students build something for the future for themselves,” he said. “Some of them have absolutely no experience at all. It kind of helps them come out of their shell.”
Miller agreed that the classes help students build practical skills: “If they’re living off campus or when they move on from college, they can take that with them—what they’re learning from the culinary chefs.”
Feedback from the students is essential to the learning environment, Ramos said. Sometimes, students will request certain dishes, and the chefs oblige.
“It’s something as simple as pasta—where to us, it’s a simple thing to do, but to realize that other people may not ever had the opportunity to do it themselves,” he said. “We need that feedback from them. They’re the ones that are eager to learn.”