Continuing Culinary Education During A Pandemic

The outbreak of a global pandemic made the traditional method of teaching and learning shift to the online space. The institutes were forced to remain closed during the lockdown and it turned out to be highly challenging for the culinary institutes to provide culinary classes through an online mode. The absence of a kitchen classroom and hands-on experiences became the major drawbacks of online classes in culinary institutes. Amidst all the online chaos of culinary classes, a few steps introduced by the culinary institutes helped bakeries and culinary institutes to bridge the educational gap during the covid-19 pandemic.

Innovating and adapting 

The culinary and bakery curriculum needs hands-on instructions conducted in a kitchen-classroom setting to make sure that the students learn the art of cooking under professionals and with state-of-the-art equipment. The method of examining the student’s work and providing the necessary instructions and feedback cannot be replicated in the virtual setup due to physical constraints. In this scenario, the only way out is to innovate and adapt.

Introducing students to the advanced tools such as virtual kitchen used that gives real –like experience remains one of the top priorities of the culinary institutes. The culinary and bakery institutes have the infrastructure and are well-equipped with the specific setup and appropriate tools that help students to understand and replicate the same.

Strengthening the foundational basics 

Looking at the pandemic situation and changing forms, culinary institutions are reinventing and adjusting with what is available at home. The institutes are trying to adopt new methods in order to let students stay on the right track in the absence of physical set-up and understand the courses. Students follow the virtual class instructor, from fundamentals of baking, properties of ingredients,braising, cutting, sautéing, chopping to dicing. Analyzing and giving feedback for the student’s work is lacking in person; however, these are shared online verbally. Due to the absence of advanced equipment at home, a major part of the curriculum now focuses on strengthening foundational basics and finding solutions to the problem areas.

The online lessons help students in staying motivated by connecting and sharing their experiences. The online sessions also aim to achieve a sense of community during today’s socially distanced scenario. Regular celebrity appearances and organizing engaging interactive sessions keep students excited and engaged in the learning process while they look forward to campus reopening.

Learning more about theory 

Even in the pandemic and online mode of learning, students are grasping something new every day. The lockdown period is a great time for the culinary students to focus on theoretical knowledge, catching up on the recipes, and building on the basics and foundations of the culinary industry. The theory is as important as chopping and stirring in the kitchen.

Introducing the new skill sets 

The culinary industry is not only about culinary skills anymore, it has moved to ‘softer skills’ such as self-discipline, interpersonal communication and professionalism. These are the skills that employers are looking for; the ones who are polishing these skills are going to make their mark post-pandemic and these skills are now incorporated into the curriculum as well. Now, the culinary institutes are focusing on expanding these skills of the students.

Introduction of extra-hygiene in cooking and baking 

Keeping the post-pandemic scenario in mind, the culinary institutes are including “food safety and hygiene” as an essential part of the curriculum. Students now have to primarily consider the COVID protocols while cooking and baking as this is one of the major factors which will be considered by employers and restaurants before hiring chefs.

Along with many other industries and fields, the culinary and baking industry is also undergoing a huge change and started working towards making it a pandemic-friendly industry by training the culinary students for the post-pandemic times. Introducing students with the new culinary skill sets will help students understand the dire needs of the hour and evolve for career enhancement.

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