By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
Our class recently finished the Culinary Arts block of the Culinary Arts program at Auguste Escoffier, which encompasses breakfast cookery, baking, pastry, charcuterie, and entrepreneurship. After summer break, we’ll be moving on to our third chef of the program. To commemorate this moment in our education, I interviewed our CA chef instructor, Chef Kelly Newlon.
What’s your background in the culinary industry?
I am fortunate to have both a culinary and pastry background to fall back on. I cannot recommend both sides of the field enough to students. Having both has certainly served me well.
What made you want to get into culinary education?
Teaching in a formal education is something in my heart, I was certain I would always do. I was just not sure when. When the opportunity presented itself to me, it happened to be at the right time. I honestly enjoy working with students as the next generation of our industry. The teaching schedule also affords me time to continue working on other culinary projects as well as continue a healthy lifestyle.
The relationship I build with each student is something very important to me. I truly believe it is a lasting friendship as well as the gateway to reaching each student individually. I have a firm belief that everyone learns in a different way. I enjoy peeling back the layers of each student to find out just how I can help the light bulb go off.
What is the most challenging part of teaching?
Ha! Having to prepare and give power points, Prezi’s etc. UGH. Look, at the end of the day, I am a cook who happens to be really good at inspiring people to be the best they can be. A coach per se. I love to get people fired up and excited and passionate! Live for that! THAT is when I see the student learn the most. When he or she is passionate! When that energy is bubbling at the surface. That gets me so freaking fired up! BUT…I also know and am FULLY aware, that I must deliver an academic portion to the program. I see this look on the students face and their eyes sort of glaze over at a power point. Man, I’ll tell you…I get it. I’ve been in that chair. It is just as challenging for me to deliver a power point. So…the challenge for me is to combine the passion and energy with the lecture. Any previous student of mine who is reading this is seriously laughing out loud right now.
What was your favorite job prior to coming to Escoffier?
Hands down, without hesitation it was a food truck I partnered in Streat Chefs here in Boulder. AWESOME project. LOVED it SO much. Such hard work. Wonderful stuff. I am also really digging a contract client of mine presently, which involves working with recovering addicted youth. Amazing kids. They are a huge light in my life.
What is your favorite thing/dish to cook?
Cassoulet! I love to make it, to eat it, to serve it to people I love and care about. Anything braised really, but Cassoulet is a rockstar. It is really sexy food.
What advice would you give to students about to come to the Culinary Arts block?
This is a difficult block. Culinary students tend to feel that this is a passage to slow down for some reason. It is not.
The best advice I can give you is this, it may seem slower because you do not have “service” time per se, but you don’t have time to slack off. Be aware of your sense of urgency. Always. Whether you are interested in the baking section or not, you need to know it. Pay attention. Pay attention in every single section of this block because it carries the same weight as every other block. Not just in grades. In what it is worth to your career in this industry.
A good breakfast cook can throw it down on a line like nobody’s business. That is a skill to have. Pay attention.
I was not interested in baking when I was in culinary school and have now somehow spent over half of my career immersed in it. This led to making two birthday cakes for Julia Child and dessert for Former President Clinton’s Second Inaugural Ball among other things. Pay attention.
Charcuterie is a passionate beautiful nose-to-tail craft. Old as the hills, yet the rock n’ roll of the food industry as of late. A craft worth learning. Don’t be a fool. Pay attention.
Entrepreneurship. Man, on day one of this class, nearly everyone says they want to open their own business. By the end of it, no one does! So…I guess they are paying attention in this class.
I had the pleasure of working under Chef Kelly for quite a while in the Pastry Arts program, and it was a joy working for her in this block. She’s absolutely right, both my wife and I consider her a close friend, and I’m glad to have her to turn to for advice in the future. In addition to that, she’s taught me more little secrets about increasing your skill and efficiently while performing difficult or finicky tasks in the kitchen than I can remember. I would be a lot less effective in the kitchen without her instruction, and while I look forward to next block, I’m sorry to be moving on.