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students showing their dishes
The culinary students proudly showed their dishes made from home via Zoom.

COVID-19 created unique challenges for Leeward Community College culinary faculty and their hands-on classes, leaving them to decide between shifting to remote instruction or postponing completion of the courses.

With determination, and the Food TV Network and recipe delivery services such as Plated for inspiration, the Leeward CC faculty faced the problem head on by teaching lab courses online and creating a food pick-up and cooking-at-home experience for students and their families.

vegetables in containers
Organizing the harvest from the agriculture courses

Ingredients and recipe kits were individually prepared featuring dry goods, proteins and perishable items that students could pick up every Tuesday. Instructor Chris Garnier also included fresh produce from Daniela Elliot’s agriculture class (AG 251) garden as an opportunity to give students a farm-to-plate learning experience.

In addition to the ingredient kits, the faculty made instructional videos for the recipes so the students could cover all the skills they needed to practice and learn.

“I spent a little more time going over the specifics of each recipe with my students since I wasn’t by their side during the cooking process,” said Chef Instructor Lee Alan Dung. “The students were able to watch the videos I created as many times as they needed. Their dishes came out really well.”

At-home improvisation

garnier cooking
Garnier recording an instructional video

Jaylene Duarte, who teaches dining room operations, the “front of house” and service for the college’s fine dining restaurant The Pearl, adjusted assignments and had her students create “fine dining” table settings in their own kitchens and serve their families.

“Improvising what the students had in their own homes and serving their families created some interesting discussions in the class,” Duarte stated.

Students documented their cooking at home in a weekly blog, where they posted pictures of their prep, station and finished product. They also created written reflections at the beginning, middle and end of the week, giving them the opportunity to process what they were learning and where they were stumbling.

“My students really rose to the occasion,” said Chef Instructor Matthew Egami. “I learned from them as they learned from me. I made sure to watch them, four at a time via Zoom. And their families loved the food they prepared. It was win-win.”

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