The Professional Cookery Team - Tertiary Teaching Excellence Teaching Profile
Teaching profile from The Professional Cookery Team (School of Food and Hospitality, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology) - a Excellence in Collaboration Award winner 2003
School of Food and Hospitality, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
The Professional Cookery Team consists of chef tutors that collaborate with each other, students, tangata whenua, Ngai Tahu, secondary schools, industry training organisations and other tertiary providers to succeed in the hospitality industry. A key element to the team's success is the ability to link the practical learning environment with the hospitality industry. The team's philosophy lies in the effectiveness of their collective and individual professionalism as educators and chefs. They are referred to as being formidable as individuals; and as a team they are "impossible to beat". The success of the team's collaboration is the many graduates who are now leading chefs in the industry, achieved through a curriculum that encourages participation in activities suitable for a variety of learning levels. The team's excellence in collaboration is summarised by a fellow colleague: "In all my years in tertiary education, I have not come across a more focused and collegial group of tutors whose ambition is to lift the standard of professional cookery throughout the sector and throughout industry."
Using the knowledge of our profession, a special mix of the team is the base for everything we do. Like all good chefs, we can continually adapt the basic mixture, presenting it in various ways depending on the occasion. We always try to improve the end result but the flavour remains constant.
The Professional Cookery Team
- Stuart Goodall
- Dennis Taylor
- David Tame
- Bill Bryce
- David Spice
- Neil Mac Innes
- Hugh Wall
- Leon Middleditch
- Stanley Tawa
- Paul Robinson
- Bruce Guild
- Marion Peawini
Our recipe for the team
- a passion for food
- a sense of commitment
- an awareness of people
- lateral thinking
- an ability to teach
- empathy with learners and their needs
- a good sense of humour (essential)
- positive attitudes
- a willingness to accept and offer critique.
Sprinkle this mix over
- 12 diverse personalities
- 220 years of accumulated experience.
Season with a pinch of administration support and an abundance of subtle leadership. Serve with a very strong relationship with industry and a multitude of students.
Passion for food and people
A passion for food has brought us together to share a commitment to setting standards and developing a future for young people. We have been described by many people in words that we find difficult to accept as we see ourselves simply as people who believe in our purpose that is all about students who aspire to be chefs.
One of our colleagues has expressed the thought that people become chefs because they like to make other people happy, and food being considered a source of pleasure for most people, we are able to fulfil our needs as individuals through this service to others. This could be considered the basis of our success as a team, as the need to please people makes it hard to decline a request for help - we are willing to extend ourselves, for our students and our industry relationships, to a level which many people find difficult to keep up with.
We are encouraged to aspire to achieve ‘best practice' daily through effective co-operation and collaboration by our collective and individual professionalism as chefs and educators; and to challenge our students to perform to their potential through modelling professional standards.
Our rewards are the successes of our students whilst they are in training, and those who gain awards and recognition within industry after they have left CPIT add to the highlights of our job.
Realising our role as educators is no easy task - it demands constant and critical evaluation from all levels. Amongst the team, we seek feedback on every aspect of development of our programmes, working together informally and formally, and with regular consultation with industry, to ensure that the content is current and relevant.
The importance of the strong relationship between learning outcomes, teaching methodology and assessment processes is recognised. We develop and use the same workbooks, lesson plans, assessments and product lists, providing consistency and maintaining a quality standard at all levels. It is important to us as tutors and vitally important to our students that their learning is never compromised through staff absence.
Our passion for food and people drives everything we do. We will spend hours out of our teaching time working on recipe and menu development for the students and for industry clients. It is within this process that we can express individuality, as particular strengths are utilised and the end results better. Leadership is low-key and supportive without dominating, and everyone responds well to this approach.
The key elements of our teaching
As a group we took the opportunity to look at ourselves within the following statements:
- We know we are only as good as our weakest link.
- We really value each other's skills and respect each other's abilities.
- We share a similar sense of humour and have lots of fun.
- The culture of our group is based on our common experience of the food industry.
- We work hard to nurture and foster new staff members so that they will achieve the high standards that we have achieved.
- We value our professional reputation and work hard to maintain it.
- Sharing regular critique and feedback enables us to maintain our high standards.
- There is a ‘down-to-earth' honesty amongst us as colleagues.
- We mentor one another.
- We travel overseas as a team to gain an insight into international trends.
- We undertake group projects and work together on these.
- We seek creative solutions together.
- We work out solutions for student concerns and problems together.
Placing value on our students is a key element of our teaching. So that we can offer our students the outcomes they strive for, we work closely with industry to develop a teaching and learning programme that is matched to industry requirements and is achievable by our students.
Theory classes support the practical elements of the course and provide additional information in an environment outside the kitchen. Much attitudinal and theoretical knowledge can be measured in a practical assessment situation and, in internal and external examinations, students demonstrate concrete evidence of theoretical knowledge by achieving high grades.
Practical classes give students step-by-step guidance through the preparation of foods and presentation of dishes. Once again, meeting assessment criteria provides evidence of success to students.
Field trips enable students to experience an environment or view a process - a preferred option to a classroom discussion. This way of learning suits the practical learning needs of our students and enhances their awareness of industry standards.
A commercial restaurant environment places students in a safe commercial environment under the guidance of a non-tutorial chef/kitchen manager so that they can put their learning to use under supervision and experience the ‘real' world whilst still learning. Observation of students and ongoing feedback ensures learning is integrated.
Work placements: students are placed into industry as part of their training so that they can experience the industry and apply their skills away from the classroom environment. Many students receive offers of employment through these placements, and their self-confidence and skill base show marked improvement when they return to the practical class environment.
Student projects are set as part of their theory classes and incorporate the need to complete research on a specified topic, and to work as a team to complete the assignment. The model of co-operation and collaboration provided by the team is vital for students' learning. Because of the kinaesthetic nature of these learners and the tutors themselves, the focus is always practical and involves the students thinking and evaluating their own practices. These methods are evaluated by observing the effectiveness of the students' learning; by talking to the students and monitoring their progress through assessments; and by collegial critiquing, whereby the students are taken out for experiential learning.
We collaborate on many levels, with each other, with our students, with the tangata whenua, Ngai Tahu, with industry, secondary schools, industry training organisations (HSI, Hospitality Standards Institute) and other tertiary education providers.
The tangata whenua (Ngai Tahu) and CPIT work as equal partners, with a healthy respect for each other to develop real opportunities for Mäori youngsters to succeed in tertiary study. Taking advantage of this partnership we have developed a cookery programme that focuses on the opportunities for young Mäori to enter tertiary studies, offering them a ‘safe' environment in which to study and gain the skills and confidence to enter mainstream employment.
We all work with and alongside industry individuals and groups to maintain our credibility and contribute expertise beyond the educational sector. We work with the HSI and have gained their Qualink accreditation.
A recent and very important area of collaboration has been with secondary schools in the Canterbury area. These working relationships encourage seamless education, enabling students to make a smooth transition from secondary to tertiary learning. Schools send their students to CPIT and the cookery tutors work in the schools as assessors. Another recent example of productive collaboration has been in the negotiation of a process with the Christchurch Academy, a local private training establishment. Students can progress easily from lower-level Academy courses to more advanced programmes at CPIT. Instead of competing for students at the lower levels CPIT acknowledges that the Academy can provide sound grounding for students who will then feed into the Certificate of Cookery EQL 3. Students and both institutions gain from working together in this way.
The future holds the unknown, as industry trends and needs challenge every step we take in maintaining high standards of education for our students. As well as the enjoyment of travelling as a team, we believe that visiting cookery schools and food places overseas helps us, as tutors and chefs, upskill and gain new knowledge.
We always stress to our students that practical experience is more beneficial than reading about it in a book, so we endeavour to put this into practice ourselves. It has been proposed to use the 2003 award to support a cultural trip to Asia, enabling us to build on our existing expertise of indigenous cuisines from the area and to strengthen relationships with cookery educational institutions and industry whilst there.
Peer and Student Comments
They valued and respected the students and encouraged their individual talents. The learning environment was fun and interesting as the tutorial staff constantly strived to improve their standard of teaching and learning by reflecting on their current methods and continually improving and updating resources and looking for new ways to deliver subjects. The tutorial staff had a brilliant structure where they all together worked as a team sharing their knowledge and expertise, while each had specific tasks to complete during the year. They are dedicated professionals who excel for excellence in every task they undertake. Just like the students, I too absorbed new knowledge and skills during this period of my career and a very valuable work ethic.
Emily Cross, former student and team member, currently Professional Cookery Lecturer, Otago Polytechnic Cromwell Campus
Once a Christchurch Polytechnic student myself it is encouraging to see that the same level of commitment to the students remains and the product that is now offered has been continually refined and progressively kept up with the industry advances. An inspirational thought as some of CPIT's School of Food and Hospitality current tutorial staff were my tutors and have remained focused on the pursuit of professional pride through training.
Andrew Brown, Executive Chef, Millennium Hotel, Christchurch
We as a hotel have no hesitation in sending our young chefs off to Christchurch Polytechnic, as history has shown that they will come out with extensive training by a group of passionate tutors.
Hamish Brown, Executive Chef, The George Hotel
The collaboration through development (Nga Kete e Toru) and ongoing support is strengthening the course offered to the students, and is placing positive young adult role models into the community.
Peter Peawini, Community Leader/ Kaumatua, Cultural Resource Tutor, Mäori Performing Arts, Ministry of Education
Very positive comments came from the students. They loved the environment they worked in and the tutors gave them so much time... treated them as young adults... as a teacher I was very pleased with the course content and the skills that were taught to the students... I am looking forward to the students running our own restaurant and using the skills and knowledge they gained at CPIT. The students themselves are now talking about going to CPIT next year.
Myra Waugh, teacher, Kaiapoi High School