Studying the culinary arts at COC

Emilee Grose, College of the Canyons sophomore, picks out pasta toppings at COC's Institute of Culinary Education free pasta bar lunch Thursday. Michele Lutes/The Signal

As a student-intern at the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education, Marylynn Anderson had the unique opportunity to get certificates in all three of the institute’s programs.

“They teach you basic skills in cooking, baking and being a sommelier and understanding wine, and you learn so much,” Anderson said.

On Feb. 5, ICUE students and staff were putting on a free luncheon for low-income students with Anderson and her fellow intern, Conor Warme, cooking. The two were prepping linguini in white aprons, noting the intricacies of the preparation process.

Across the main ICUE atrium, department chair Cindy Schwanke was also directing students who were interested in eating the freshly prepared hard work that Anderson and Warme, among others, had made.

Both students have indulged in a very fast-paced knowledge of each of the arts, in what is often a “very challenging field with a lot of elements,” Schwanke said.

“We have experienced chefs who’ve all been in the industry who are teaching the students,” she said of the program’s uniqueness. “We have small class sizes for the best one on one training, we have a beautiful facility and students get internships in a hands on way.”

“You can join the ICUE if you want to open up your own restaurant,” Anderson said. “Or you can go the route of being a pastry chef or sommelier.”

Anderson specializes in culinary arts, but has taken the other classes and earned the other certificates.

“It’s like three different types of classes, like if you had three subjects: ‘English, math, science,’” she said. “It’s kind of all in the same building, but as far as what you’re taught, they’re very different.”

In the wine class, Anderson learned about wines in other countries, the different climates under which fermentation happens and even how to pour wine.

She recalls one final she took that entailed popping champagne without the cork flying off. Wine tasting is also a very popular class, where people can see how the “legs” — how the wine remains on the glass when it’s swirled — indicates how strong of alcohol content wine has.

“There are just so many wine classes,” Anderson said. “We have ‘Wines of Italy,’ ‘Wines of France,’ ‘Wine Appreciation.’ You’re basically traveling the world in a classroom. You can learn about how reds can have 14 percent to 3 percent, and how those notes differ.”

And now, Schwanke said, students in the wine certification program can go on field trips to the college’s vineyard, maintained by Pulchella Winery.

The donated vines for that were planted two miles north from the college by the I-5 freeway, and now students can make their own wine in an internship.

“We show students how to maintain grapevines, pick the grapes, clip them, use them as a visual,” she said. “Our students intern at Pulchella Winery to make the wine, too.”

The wine and baking certificates take a year, while the culinary program takes a year and a half.

Anderson has been in the program since August 2015 to obtain all three certificates before embarking on a career as a chef, while Warme is on his last credit before he graduates.

Any COC students interested can also obtain an associate’s degree that takes two years.

“Many people want to learn to cook better, and even learning things about how your knife cuts are covered in classes,” Warme  said.

“Plus it only costs $5,000 for your degree instead of $35,000-40,000 at a for-profit cooking school,” Anderson said.

Schwanke said that the college also does its part for students that don’t get a hot meal or for students who may go hungry for the week, and so decided to do a free lunch as a pilot program.

They also have buffet-style lunches on Thursdays.

“On Tuesday nights starting in April, we’re going to do dinners, too,” Schwanke said. “We also classes so people can come in for 3-4 hours and make something with our chefs, we have a couple coming up.

Breakout box:

The Institute for Culinary Education at College of the Canyons currently offers:

* Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts

* Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry

* Certificate of Specialization in Wine Studies

* Certificate of Specialization in Hospitality Wine Service

Culinary Arts programs that are currently in development:

* Associate in Arts Degree — Culinary Arts

* Additional Certificate in Wine Studies


* Additional degrees, certificates and programs that respond to the needs of the industry.

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