For his entire life, Scott Brooker has found his true passion to be in the culinary arts. From Thanksgiving turkey cookoff competitions every year to casual get-togethers with friends, he has found his true home, his true place to be free is in the kitchen. Deciding to pursue a different professional route, Scott has kept his passion as just that—a passion. But when he turned 40 last year, something in him clicked and he knew it had to be more than that. That thought quickly grew into a plan that he would someday soon open a bistro in the small town Quebec province of Canada in which he lives. With that thought came the idea that Scott also wanted to pursue a more formal culinary education that would allow him to be involved and smart about all kitchen decisions. It wasn’t until he found Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Art’s online certificate program that he realized his culinary education dreams could come true.
Scott took the time to talk to us about how he first fell in love with the culinary arts, his plans for the future and why he’s a believer in online education.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: Tell me about your background in the culinary arts. Where did you start and where are you now?
Scott Brooker: I know it sounds cliché but I have been a permanent fixture in my kitchen since I was young. From helping my mom make cookies, to watching my dad prepare the Christmas dinners, to taking over preparing all the meals for my grandparents when my grandfather was sick, it’s just where I love to be. It also doesn’t hurt to mention that I was born and grew up on the East Coast in Canada where everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat, talk, laugh and party; no matter how small the kitchen is, it’s just where we gather.
Like many people, I put my passion aside for more traditional university education and joined the workforce. I have always used my passion and interest in cooking and entertaining my family and friends as a stress reducer. Last year, when I turned 40, I promised myself I would become manically focused on realizing my dream, to be the owner of a small bistro-wine bar in our small lake-side community. Knowing these things take time, money and lots of planning, I want to make sure that when I am ready to make this dream a reality, that I have a good business plan that is counseled by an expert and that I have the foundational knowledge to work alongside experienced chefs.
AESCA: What caught your eye about the online culinary arts certificate program?
SB: Online and culinary arts seem like a conflicting statement. In reality, the online program gives me the opportunity to be educated by great chefs that are already masters in their domain but in the comfort and familiar surroundings of my home. Living in a small community and still working as a business manager for the Canadian Red Cross, I have commitments that would not allow me to leave home and work to attend a traditional program. The combination of live session, recorded session, online forums and 1:1 time with the chef instructors enables me to learn and grow my skill set in a way that is tailored to my learning style and needs. This coupled with the online technical support and assistance for externship placement, are exciting me to begin this morning.
AESCA: How do you feel about online education?
SB: Over the past 10 years I have taken many professional development courses both in traditional classroom learning settings and online. The best thing for me about online education is that I can integrate focused learning time with my professional and family life. It’s all about creating and maintaining balance in my often hectic life. Online learning gives me the flexibility to have more focused contact with my classmates, instructors and course materials in a way that is less rushed and more respectful of different communication styles. Having access to the course materials, online forums and study groups outside of the 9-to-5 tradition is very conducive to active learning. I simply love that I can schedule and commit to learning interactions when I can be focused without interruption. It just sets me up for more consistent success and better interactive experiences.
AESCA: What are you most excited about for your culinary education and what comes after?
SB: I feel very excited about the possibility to pursue my passion and having the foundational skills and knowledge to be able to hire.