Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students

Aug 6, 2014

Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students
Culinard chef instructors smile for the cameras during the pastry arts workshop in Greensboro.

The participants of a week-long pastry arts workshop at Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Greensboro earlier this year had their every move scrutinized and recorded. While the cameras rolled, chefs molded sugar and tempered chocolate to create artistic showpieces. No, they weren't being judged for a Food Network reality show—these instructors were learning the latest advanced techniques in pastry arts as part of their continuing professional development.

Eventually, the edited videos will form part of the lesson plans chef instructors use to demonstrate these techniques for pastry arts students, says Chef Antony Osborne, Culinary and Pastry Program Specialist.

"We wanted to showcase the attributes of the pastry arts program that we hadn't been doing before," he says. "We wanted to capture on film the creative techniques our instructors use. We had our best instructors utilize the techniques and our students will get to see these advanced techniques."

The resulting videos—30 in all—will be uploaded to "My Culinary Lab," the customized interactive website for students used by Culinard. Chef Osborne also created a comprehensive book for the chef instructors to use alongside the videos in the classroom. The book contains 60 pages of recipes, techniques and a history of pastry arts.

Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students
Chef Jared Danks demonstrates sugar techniques while a film crew captures his every move.

The workshop was led by Chef Jared Danks, program director of Culinard in Birmingham and Chef Ben Shelton of Greensboro. Danks, an ACS Certified Master Pastry Chef, shared his considerable talents with crafting in sugar. Shelton, 2013 U.S. Pastry Chef of the Year, revealed the latest techniques in chocolate.

The chef instructors gave a one hour lecture on their craft, and then the fun really began. Chefs Danks and Shelton would demo a technique, and then the chef instructors would replicate it. Two towering showpieces, one sugar and one chocolate, were created during the week, using a variety of techniques.

Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students
Chef Ben Shelton led the chef instructors in learning new techniques with chocolate.

"We're educating our instructors and getting them familiar with these new techniques," says Chef Osborne. "This puts us on the cutting edge of most culinary programs."

An experienced crew of videographers filmed the chefs at work during the workshop. Jeff Davis, Multimedia Video Specialist, says the goal for the week was to be as comprehensive as possible.  "We had three cameras going and a roving fourth camera," he says. "We even had an overhead camera, to really document every move they made."

The crew also recorded interviews with each chef instructor, with their thoughts on the techniques presented.

With a week working side-by-side, the workshop participants also enjoyed camaraderie with their fellow chefs. That teamwork was critical, says Chef Osborne. "The chefs got to meet and greet and make new friendships and work with each other," he says. "They developed partnerships and they can now call on each other for help or advice."

Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students
Chefs Anastasia Kaminski and Jeff Szabo consult with each other.

"I was very proud to have the support of the corporate office to do this," Chef Osborne says. "It was a team effort. Chef Jose [Garcia Campos, program director of Greensboro] did an outstanding job taking care of us. He helped support us tremendously."

Chef Osborne says this workshop is just the beginning. "I'm hoping to do a similar one for pastry next year. We can do ice carving, fruit carving, farm to table. There's so much we can do."

Culinard chef instructors learn new pastry trends to pass along to students
During the workshop, chef instructors created two towering showpieces in sugar and chocolate.

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