INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Knives chopping, water boiling, timers dinging and excited voices ringing through the kitchen may sound like walking into a restaurant but here at Incirlik, it is the Incirlik Unit School's Culinary Arts Class in full swing.
According to Chef Hana McWilliams, IUS culinary arts instructor, the new class, which started this year, isn't your grandmother's traditional home economics class.
"We don't make recipes. We use
recipes to understand
methods," McWilliams said. "For example, we may use a recipe for lentil soup to demonstrate and practice the puree soup method, or a recipe for chicken tagine to demonstrate and practice the braising method. The students are then able to apply the methods to make any number of different soups or braised dishes using the same techniques."
The culinary arts class at IUS is a career and technical education course that is designed to get students ready for post-secondary culinary education or career readiness. The class teaches students how to cook like a culinary professional, giving them the knowledge and experience to move immediately into the food service industry after graduation.
The class also aims at teaching students valuable life skills that are essential to high-performing individuals such as teamwork, organization, respect, discipline, financial management, writing skills, math skills, complex communication, time-management, self-management, adaptability and confidence.
Furthermore, the course not only teaches the students how to prepare for life in the kitchen, it teaches them how to be resilient outside of the kitchen. The course pushes students physically since they are required to work their bodies urgently for a full three hours to complete their work and requires students to develop non-routine problem solving skills.
"Task completion is set to critical time schedules that must be met to ensure guests are satisfied and costly product is not wasted or damaged," said McWilliams. "In addition to hands-on tasks, the students are also expected to complete rigorous academic work such as research papers and projects, and to prepare for and engage in high-level discussions of topics such as economics and food systems."
McWilliams is not the only person in the classroom excited about the program.
"I definitely recommend this class," said Baylee Royer, IUS 12th grade culinary arts student. "This class has taught me how to cook and to eat healthier, instead of just throwing mac and cheese in a bowl."
The class also offers students a chance to interact with Airmen from across base.
This year, Airmen from different units had the opportunity to partner with the class and sample meals prepared by the students. . The partnership gave the students the opportunity to share their skills through practicing by serving and interacting with guests as if they were in a real restaurant environment.
The guests not only received a good meal, they also provided feedback, mentorship and encouragement to the students
"The interaction between the students and the permanent party members was great," said Master Sgt. Thomas Sefcik, 728th Air Mobility Squadron aircraft maintenance flight chief. "It was great to see the professionalism of the students and the staff and to see all of their culinary skills. The meal was absolutely spectacular and the presentation was astronomical."
Official requirements for students interested in participating in the class include, being in 10th to 12th grade and have availability for a three-hour class. Possessing a sense of urgency, willingness to work hard and being able to hold oneself to a high standard of professionalism is also recommended.
McWilliams is proud of her inaugural class here at IUS and the dedication they have shown this academic year.
"This is a very capable and dedicated group of young people who work hard every day to understand food on a level that will enhance their lives and the lives of others," said McWilliams. "They never try to cut corners and they take pride in building their skills and knowledge steadily instead of diving right into easy, flashy cookery that is all fun without any foundation or academics."
To follow the classes' experiences, visit their online blog at www.hodjasculinarynewsletter.weebly.com