ECCC culinary course offers various career options

Love to cook? Is baking a favorite past time? Ever wonder how a restaurant makes that special sauce? Perhaps your future includes a career in culinary arts! East Central Community College in Decatur began offering a degree in Culinary Arts in 2007 and more recently moved into a new kitchen on the South Campus. Alexei Huguley has served as instructor since the program began. “We offer a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree and there is a one-year certificate program without the general education requirements (core academics),” Huguley said. Part-time courses are not typically offered due to most of the courses requiring prerequisites, but part-time is a possibility based on the student’s skill level and instructor approval. Upon completion of the program, Huguley said students are prepared for jobs as prep cooks, line cooks, sous chefs and kitchen supervisors. “Basically anywhere there is a kitchen they should be able to go in above entry level,” Huguley said. “Some choose to focus on catering or baking instead.” Students may also obtain certification through the American Culinary Federation, which offers national certification after the student has completed a degree and worked in the field an appropriate time. Among courses offered are Culinary Principles I and II, Principles of Baking, Garde Manger, International Cuisine, American Regional Cuisine, Food and Beverage Cost Control, Dining Room Management and a host of managerial courses to learn how to manage and operate a kitchen and its employees. Huguley said, “Students also learn skills in sanitation and safety in the kitchen, knife skills, meat fabrication, flavors and flavorings, baking, vegetable and starch prep, pasta, sauces, plating, etc.” In addition to class lectures, Huguley said 90 percent of class time is spent cooking.” “We prepare all local ingredients that are available to us but focus on classic French technique. Typically, we also have several times a semester that we have an opportunity to cater projects on campus.” In addition, students enrolled in the program cater for the general public when school is in session. They also offer cakes, casseroles and other items for purchase. “Anyone can call or e-mail me for prices, said Huguley. “We can pretty much prepare anything needed and any quantity.” Huguley said the new kitchen on South Campus has been a wonderful addition. “The students love all the extra space and organization. Now we would like to add a smoker and a steamer when possible.” For more information on the Culinary Arts program, contact Huguley at 601-635-6252 or by e-mail at ahuguley@eccc.edu. Prospective students may also contact ECCC Career-Technical counselor Amanda Walton at 601-635-6214 or by e-mail at awalton@eccc.edu.