The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Let It Simmer


SE culinary arts department prepares students for jobs in real world kitchens

Jose Romero

During the shutdown, most courses transitioned to an online-only environment, but for the SE culinary arts department, that was out of the question.

It’s a hands-on program, so instead, classes were halved, students wore masks and everybody in the kitchen was socially distanced. This semester, the department returned to normal.

“We all got used to having smaller classes, so it was a bit of an adjustment,” culinary arts instructor Katrina Warner said.

Warner has been teaching for 20 years, and she said the thing that has kept her in the business for so long is her love for the craft.

“I find it’s a crime when people don’t know how to cook,” she said. “I don’t understand that. You have to eat to live.”

photo courtesy Alex Hoben

Something that was halted during the shutdown was catering, but that returned this semester as well. The department does some TCC events, culinary scholarship fundraising dinners, promotional catering and a $5 lunch every Monday. The lunch on Mondays is used as a way to help students gain experience since it’s almost entirely run by them.

SE student Ken Goodheart’s experience with culinary began in 1973 as a cook in a pancake house. Throughout his life, he’s had many experiences in various kitchens from hotels to restaurants. But, his primary career was as an accountant. He retired in February, so he decided to return to school and study culinary arts.

“When I retired, I needed something to do, so here I am,” he said.

Pleasing people is Goodheart’s favorite part about cooking. He primarily cooks for his family and said he doesn’t cook for himself.

The class is teaching him the foundations of cooking, he said. Another thing he enjoys about the class is the interaction with other students.

Goodheart plans on getting his associate degree in culinary arts, a move that was recommended to him by his daughter. His current plan is to teach culinary classes at stores like Central Market or Sur La Table after he graduates. But, he said he has no plans to go work at a restaurant whatsoever.

SE student Isaiah Martinez picked up cooking during COVID. He said he started doing it because his mom would work 12-hour shifts as a nurse, and he wanted to ensure she had a meal prepared for her when she got home. He hopes to gain the necessary experience from the program to work at a high-end restaurant.

Martinez’s favorite part about the program has been chef Warner.

“The best teacher I’ve had ever,” he said. “Even in high school, teachers were not the greatest, but she’s perfect.”

To make the cooking process easier, Martinez said to have more confidence.

“If you come in with a better mindset, everything is a lot easier for you,” he said.

Warner learned how to cook at a young age from her mom. She said food has always been a part of her life. When her grandparents emigrated from Germany, they opened a delicatessen in New York City. Even her brother is in the culinary world since he’s an executive chef.

“My dad kind of summed it up real well,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, everybody’s gotta eat, so it’s a good business to get into.’ It’s just always been a part of my life.”

After students leave the program, she said they end up working in restaurants, hotels, catering companies or even start their own businesses.

“We’re small classes, small groups, there are only four full-time instructors, so the students really get to know us pretty well, and we get to know them pretty well,” Warner said. “It’s kind of like a tight-knit little family.”

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