UT culinary boot camp exposing Austin-East students to professional culinary skills

UT Culinary and the American Culinary Federation Smoky Mountain Chapter received a grant to help Austin East Students become professional chefs.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Some culinary students at Austin-East Magnet High School were getting a taste of what it’s like to be a professional chef. It was all thanks to a grant received from the East Tennessee American Culinary Federation.

Chef Greg Eisele, the president of the American Culinary Federation Smoky Mountain Chapter, and the University of Tennessee Culinary and Catering Program Director taught students several culinary techniques and cuisines.

Brant Thomas the Culinary instructor at Austin-East, said this is the first year for the boot camp with Chef Isley. He said the program encouraged students to think outside the classroom.

“This is a thing that exists outside of Austin-East that they can go do. They could possibly go to Greg’s program. Go work with Greg and go do some events. It just opens the world a little bit more to have somebody that’s outside doing it and show them some stuff,” shared Thomas.

Students like Sylas Arthur were thankful for the hands-on experience.

”We made cheeseburgers one day and then we made cookies and we just made a whole lot of stuff. I know that there’s probably some schools out there that don’t even have culinary arts, and it’s just really nice that we have something that. It’s kinda like a privilege that we get at the school,” said Arthur.

Thomas said students who stick with the culinary program will be eligible for industry certifications.

“So we have three levels. Culinary One, Two, and Three. The way the program was is by the end of Three we set them up with an industry certification, that is Serve Safe Manager Certification. They take a test and they have to make a certain percentage on it to pass. And that sort of sets them up to get their foot in the door into a kitchen closer to that managerial level right off the bat because they’ve taken that food safety exam,” explained Thomas.

Isley said he plans to make the culinary boot camp an annual thing. With him teaching another group of Austin-East students during the next school year.