Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

Culinary Artistry: The Syllabus!

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Back to School. Ten years ago, if you’d asked me to step to the front of a classroom full of 20- and 21-year-olds and try my hand at teaching, I would have laughed in your face and kept my hand where it belonged, on the handle of my saute pan.

But now, in retrospect, it seems I never really left the classroom. It just happens to look like a kitchen. I was 23, an instructor from the Greenbrier Resort told me that in order to be a good chef you have to be good at the following five things:

1. You have to be a good cook.
2. You have to be a good manager.
3. You have to be a good businessperson.
4. You have to be a good parent and a good citizen (because you will probably raise some kids in that kitchen!).

And most importantly,
5. You have to be a good teacher.

I’ve lived by these five rules ever since.

I started teaching at Newbury College last year. Not with the goal of switching professions—and certainly not for the money. I was simply very curious to know what schools were teaching the chefs of the future and wanted to be a part of it.

51X63CJ0V7L._SS400_My first class was conducted online from Santiago, Chile, where I e-mailed the students a great chapter from Becoming a Chef titled “Travel, Eating, and Reading: Learning Something New Everyday”—which is just what I was doing, teaching by example as I discovered that the South America you see on CNN is not the warm, wonderful South America you meet in the kitchen and around the dinner table. In the book are some quotes from Lydia Shire—someone I never thought I would actually meet, but who has turned out to be a strong influence on my career—who noted that kids should spend less money on Walkmans (now iPods) and more money and time on travel and education. Guess who I quoted on Monday night during the intro to my fall seminar, Culinary Artistry?

The beauty of it all I’ve grown to love teaching. In our industry we work a lot of hours with some happy people and some unhappy people, some cheery optimists and some bitter drunks. The industry can be tough on us all. But there is nothing more restorative than walking into a group full of eager young people who excited to take everything to take all that fresh learning and apply it in the real world!  As they learn and grow, so do I—while remembering just why I love this business so much.

Here are a few key items on my syllabus. It’s already shaping up to be a great class.

9780316178310_388X586October 5
Cooking for Ideas: Where to Look While We Cook and While We Live

Assignment- Research the top 50 Restaurants in the U.S. and World (guidance will be provided on where to locate this information) then choose one that you would like to research further for your final exam/paper.

October 26
Realities of Our Workplace and How to Create Around Them?

We will discuss how to create around the demands of staffing, bosses, ownership, shortages, costs and running your business. (case study)

December 7th
Building Your Happy Place

How do you inspire those around you to create? How do you create? What is your best environment and time of day for creating food ideas? How do you work around the hectic schedules of school and work to create? What does your ideal creative space look like? (with reading assignment from the book The Six Thinking Hats).


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