What Escoffier Chef Instructors Love Most About Their Jobs

Escoffier Chef Instructors share what lights them up in their culinary school jobs, from sharing their passion to providing mentorship and more.

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May 14, 2021 8 min read

Everyone hopes to find a fulfilling career that they love! That’s why people attend culinary school — to get closer to their dream job where they can cook or work with food all day long.

For Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts’ Chef Instructors, they get to work in the industry they love — while providing mentorship and education to future generations. We asked these experts to share what they love most about their jobs, so we could give you a look into the minds of these mentors. Learn what makes them the happiest in their work at Escoffier!

The Working Environment

For some Escoffier Chef Instructors, it’s the work environment that they enjoy the most. Not all culinary schools are the same, and these instructors appreciate what makes Escoffier unique.

Pastry Chef Instructor Jason Goldman said he appreciates, “The ability to work for a company where my voice is heard (as well as my colleagues), and my ideas, if good, can be put into practice.”

Another instructor told us that he loved the working hours at Escoffier because it let him spend more time with his wife and baby daughter. Now, he can’t imagine leaving. This is another great reminder that a culinary career doesn’t have to mean working in a restaurant! There is a wide variety of culinary careers, and they can entail different working hours, environments, and responsibilities.

Chef Instructor with white hat talking to students in kitchen
Chef Instructors for Escoffier’s online programs also find plenty to enjoy at work. Just like the culinary students who benefit from increased flexibility through an online program, there’s flexibility for the instructors, too!

For Chef Lenora Murphy, she appreciates the diversity of her students. Online culinary and pastry students come from all over the world and all walks of life. The experience has allowed instructors to interact with many cultures and get an idea for the way people live in countries they may never visit in person.

“The interaction with so many students from practically everywhere on Earth. Interacting with them helps me keep many things in my life in perspective.”
Escoffier Chef Instructor Lenora Murphy

Sharing a Passion for Food & Cooking

For many Escoffier Chef Instructors, the best part of the job is sharing their passion with excited students. Not everyone gets to talk about their favorite thing all day long for their job!

“I get to talk about food, and how it brings us together. Food to me is the international common denominator :)”
Escoffier Chef Instructor Sofia Forde

Instructor Steve Konopelski enjoys the combination of passion and technique. He says, “I love sharing my passion for food, but also knowledge with the students. I have always understood that technique is the basis and key for everything.”

Chef Chelsie Higgins likes the dialogue. She loves when “…folks want to know the things I am so excited to share!” And for Chef Instructor Dan Bearss, the joy comes from demystifying the cooking experience for his students. He says, “I love teaching people about new ways to prepare food, and [showing] people how easy it is to make simple and tasty meals.”

Chef Stephanie Michalak White’s passion is helping students to find their passions, and helping them to stay motivated through school and beyond. Passion is an essential component of any successful chef or culinarian. The Escoffier Chef Instructors have it in spades, and they thrive on sharing it with their students!

Female culinary student frying vegetables while chef instructor watches

The Light Bulb Moments

When we asked our Chef Instructors to share their favorite parts of their jobs, we expected to find some common themes. But we didn’t expect to find so many who used the same language to describe it!

Turns out, many Chef Instructors thrive on helping students find that “light bulb” or “ah-ha” moment when things suddenly make sense. For Chef Instructor Suzanne Lasagna, it’s all about “…the ah-ha moment when a new technique or skill finally clicks for a student.”

“I love interacting with students and seeing the ‘a-ha’ moments when they learn how to see food in new and exciting ways.”
Escoffier Chef Instructor David Pazmiño

When a student’s face lights up because something clicks — that’s what it’s all about for Chef Instructor Jackie Abril-Carlile! She loves “…seeing the lightbulb go off when the students finally ‘get it.’” And Pastry Chef Instructor Vicki Davenport says, “I love the ‘ah-ha’ moments! When a student is struggling with a process or concept, and then all of a sudden it clicks, and they’re successful!”

Male culinary student cutting vegetables while smiling chef instructor observes

Preparing Students for Future Careers

Most culinary students aren’t in school “just because.” They’re planning for their futures and preparing for their careers. Escoffier Chef Instructors take great pride in helping students to bridge that gap from amateur to professional.

“One of the great joys of an academic life is the prospect of interacting with bright young minds, most of whom are at the verge of stepping into the real world. It gives me supreme satisfaction as an instructor that I have the honor and privilege to take part in the preliminary stages of their journey.”
Escoffier Chef Instructor Ivan Valcin

Escoffier Chef Instructors work hard to make sure their students are well-prepared, and they enjoy sharing their own professional experience. For General Education Instructor Liz Matthiesen-Jones, teaching adult learners is a highlight. She is proud to help older students expand their horizons and make the most of their potential.

Chef Instructor Rachel Rancourt-Hobbs sees it as a back and forth — students are enthusiastic and passionate, which makes her want to be the best teacher she can be, so the students will excel in the industry.

Escoffier baking and pastry student holding baked bread

Providing Mentorship and Helping Students Grow

There was one clear winner when it came to what makes Escoffier Chef Instructors the happiest. It’s the joy they get from mentoring students and helping them to grow. Chef Instructors are passionate, talented chefs in their own right. The opportunity to share their years of knowledge and experience with future generations of chefs and cooks is what provides gratification and fulfillment.

Chef Nicholas Howard loves, “being able to take the years of experience I have received and share it with the next generation of culinarians!” And Pastry Chef Instructor NaDean Johnson appreciates, “the mentoring aspect of working with my students and watching them flourish as bakers.”

“I love seeing students succeed. Watching them problem solve and use their new skills to end up with an outstanding final product makes me so proud. When I was a student, I remember my amazing Chef Instructors pushed me to be the best I could. As you can see, they had a big impact on me. Their guidance in this field is why I chose a career in food service education.”
Escoffier Pastry Chef Instructor Delainey Currier

Chef Instructor Cesar Herrera sees his mentorship as an extension of the mentorship he once received. “[I love] to see my students progress week after week, and to share the knowledge I once got from my mentors with my students,” he says.

More Thoughts on Mentorship from Escoffier Chef Instructors

  • “The thing I love most about my job is helping others achieve the learning moments that provide personal growth.” – Escoffier Instructor Kali Lentz, Ph.D.
  • “My only goal in my professional career is to help people achieve their goals. When I can help someone else get the ‘win’ they’re looking for, I feel as though I’ve made an impact!” – Escoffier Chef Instructor Nick Papantonakis
  • “I love how excited students get when they realize something that they were intimidated by really isn’t that difficult to make. It’s like I can actually feel their boost of confidence!” – Escoffier Pastry Chef Instructor Sinead Chardon
  • “I love watching students’ improvement from first day to last as they progress through a program, and I see them walk across the stage at graduation.” – Escoffier Chef Instructor Jeff Chapman

Too Many To Choose!

For a couple of our Chef Instructors, it was hard to pick a favorite thing about their culinary careers.

“There are two things that really make me know I am living my passion,” says Chef Instructor Jennifer Kempin. “When a student has what I call the ‘ah-ah’ moment when they really understand and excel in their assignment, and when they come back after being in the industry, and tell me the amazing things they have accomplished. Knowing I was a part of their education makes it all worth it. Plus Escoffier is an amazing place to work. The sheer amount of talent that I get to be around everyday when I log into work is mind-blowing. I get to learn and grow as an instructor and a person as well. I honestly could not think of a better place to work.”

You can benefit from all of this passion and enthusiasm, plus decades of industry experience, with an online or on-campus culinary education at Escoffier. Establish a foundation of cooking skills and meet mentors who can help guide you toward your own dream career in the world of food!

Explore more about careers in the culinary and pastry industries:

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