Culinary can be hard to keep up with at school when students have to help run a restaurant. The difficulty increases when a stay-at-home order has everyone continuing their education virtually.
Schools were ordered to close March 23 and could reopen April 6, however by April 1, a stay- at- home order was placed to all counties and pushed the date of lifting these orders to May 8.
“We have to take all of our class online,” Francine Marz said.
Chef Marz, MBA, CEC, Culinary Director has worked at NCC for 2 ½ years. She has around 60 students in the culinary arts program. There are differences between being hands-on and being taught via video.
“The kitchen (or culinary labs) we can watch the students as they are cooking and correct them immediately. Online we provide them with videos and demos and they have to then do it themselves and go through the process on their own.”
Participation has not decreased for culinary majors, they have stayed engaged. Students were able to make the transition to online and understood that the Stay At Home order was to protect more people from COVID-19.
“They really just want to cook and to be the best cook that they can be,” Marz stated.
Many of the students in the Culinary Arts program also work in the restaurant Hampton Winds but this hasn’t slowed down their hands-on experience. The experience comes in a different platform for these students.
“Obviously we cannot have them cook and serve guests in Hampton Winds, but they are learning just in a different modality.”
Marz says that students learning via video could and could not have difficulty with it. She explains that discipline and initiative are much more needed when learning online. Students have to find time during their day while at home to do assignments. Comparing this to a classroom where the focus is only on the assignment at hand. There’s also difficulty in fixing mistakes of the students right when the chefs see it. Nor can they talk through the process to help them understand while they are cooking. Students are being critiqued afterward with the change of cooking at home and not in “our commercial kitchen”. Which can be difficult for any student who may not have the right ingredient.
“It is hard finding ingredients, so we have tried to help by providing students with food boxes so they can practice their lessons at home,” Marz said.
A struggle both students and teachers face that is no stranger to many people is the difference in internet service.
“Plus the more people you have in an online classroom, the harder it is to prevent skipping and pausing while teaching online,” Marz said.
Marz explained the countless distractions that come from learning at home. She has students who are adults with children. These parents have to teach their kids now that school is closed and it causes more difficulty for these parents to focus on their own classes.
“When students are in the classroom, we have their undivided attention, but when they are home sometimes there might be too many distractions.”
The stay-at-home order is said to be lifted on May 8 and stay lifted for 28 days to evaluate if it is safe to have the public open. However, with Pennsylvania at 48,305 confirmed cases and 2,418 deaths, the future is still fuzzy for everyone.