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FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - November 2016 - Kansas City

Well Bread

JCCC's Hospitality and Culinary Academy is preparing iron chefs for worlds of active duty

By Gloria Gale


I'm having a moment.


Kansas finally has something to shout about that's not controversial.


I'm talking about Johnson County Community College's Hospitality and Culinary Academy.


Amuse bouche!


 “That's quite a mouthful but the building had to have a name,” says director, of hospitality management, Ona Ashley, eager to show me around the impressive 36,000 square-foot glass and steel building.


Housing five culinary labs, an innovation kitchen, extensive library and state-of-the-art culinary teaching theater approximately 700 students are currently enrolled in the program.


Throughout the rigorous 3-year degree program students learn everything there is to know about the art and industry of food science including: preparation, sanitation, pastry/baking, nutrition, beverage, hotel and lodging management plus considerably more.


Over 75 credit hours and 6,000 on-the-job training, students whisk and chop, fold and baste their way to an associate degree of applied science and sous chef certification. 

It's enough to make tender newbies crumble.


Yet, by covering every crumb, the results are noteworthy. The fledglings, ranging in age from 18 to 67, grow substantially and graduate highly accomplished.


Something that doesn't slip by accreditation from the American Culinary Federation, the Greater Kansas City Chefs Association and sponsorship by the U.S. Department of Labor.


Mix mastering

Inside this living laboratory is the largest chef apprentice program in the United States where students are taught by full and part time faculty.


“Something we are indeed proud of,” says Professor, Felix Strumer, a veteran of the culinary program


According to Ashley, “It's definitely a unique program with demands that other programs do not have. For one, we require our students to work while enrolled. Our chef apprentices are employed in over 100 locations throughout the metro area as part of their education,” she says tagging Aaron Prater, an Assistant Professor returning to the program after a stint in the military.


“I knew my way around the kitchen but I didn't know the fundamentals,” says Prater, now teaching and part of the Culinary Team.


Speaking of the team approach, it's a valuable part of the program.


Within the glass-walled innovation kitchen, visitors can see the culinary team, chosen from students who work collectively towards competitions, in action.


Today, Jessica Seely, a student and member of the culinary team is assisting whatever is needed for an upcoming regional competition. “My goal is to graduate in the fall then

travel internationally and see what jobs are available.”   


The results of team efforts are impressive.


Awards won locally, nationally and in global culinary competitions ranging from Scotland to Dubai are on display in the Academy atrium. “Something we are very proud of,” says Ashley.


There are few programs across the country that can match the number of culinary graduates in a variety of food and beverage/hospitality management positions.


This indeed is a highly accomplished program – something Kansas can finally crow about.


Become a loyalist and join the crowd for the weekly Pastry Bake Sale at the Culinary Center on the Johnson County Community College campus.

Fall in line and pick up something delectable made by the pastry students. 

The range of temptations is beyond measure and everything is priced reasonably. Available fall and spring semesters only. 

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This delectable recipe is crafted from Teaching Traditions, a cookbook celebrating the opening of the Hospitality and Culinary Academy at Johnson County Community College, October 2013 

French Chocolate Cake 

Serves 8 

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate 

2 ounces butter, softened 

3 eggs 

6 ounces ground almonds 

1 tablespoon vanilla 

1/4 cup breadcrumbs, medium fine 

Pinch salt 


Grease the bottoms and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom only with greased waxed paper. 

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water. With a wooden spoon cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually work in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until absorbed. Stir in melted chocolate, ground almonds, vanilla, breadcrumbs and salt. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Removee from the pan at once and let cool before adding the glaze. 



2 squares unsweetened chocolate 

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate 

2 ounces butter, softened 

2 tablespoons honey 

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir in butter and honey, cooking until mixture thickens. Pour over the cooled cake and spread with a rubber spatula. Garnish with slivered toasted almonds. 


Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.


As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients. 


Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program. 


Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria:

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