DVC culinary program is a cut above the rest


Erin Smith

Baking and pastry majors Zach Matera, 22, Norine Wan, 27, and Madison August, 20 work away perfecting their various cuts and dices in the DVC culinary class.

Erin Smith, Features Editor

Imagine walking into your first day of class, but instead of a traditional classroom full of desks and a blackboard you’re entering a restaurant grade kitchen. Your teacher isn’t in the usual style either. Slacks and a button up have been replaced with chef whites and a “touque blanche.” In lieu of pens and pencils, knives, sauce pans and poultry are the tools you will be using.

This is what many students at Diablo Valley College walk into everyday. The DVC culinary program emerges students in a hands on culinary curriculum, and with the rise in popularity of becoming the next great chef, so has the popularity of the program.

Many students may have noticed that the downstairs cafeteria is open at the onset of the semester, but the upstairs express line, bakery, grill and Norseman remain closed until mid-September. This is because your fellow students are diligently working away to learn the skills needed to properly run these eateries, as well as working towards a degree in baking and pastry, culinary arts, or restaurant management.

Chef Brian McGlynn, chair of the culinary department, expanded on some of the things students learn before opening day, “We have culinary math, where the students get knowledge of culinary measurements, pounds, volume, etc.” They also, and most importantly learn bout safety. “We’re getting kids safe in the kitchen. The last thing we want is for a student to cut a finger. They learn knife skills and how to use the kitchen equipment.”

The students also learn to make basic stocks, break down a chicken, and properly cut produce. “Having them practice knife skills is the toughest, once they get the knife skills down everything else follows,” said McGlynn.

A bustling kitchen is also dependent on communication, and getting students with varying experience on the same page is a must. “They are beginning students, when they get with the advance students we want everyone speaking the same language.”

The program itself has undergone some major changes over the years. “I’ve been working for 32 years. The program has changed because of this building. We went from one of the worst facilities to the best in the area,” said Chef Paul Bernhardt, a culinary instructor at DVC. He reflected on how long it took to get where they are today, “It’s amazing how dependent you are on your equipment.”

It’s hard to believe but nearly 15 years ago the program was downsized due to lack of profits, which led to teachers being laid off. Today the students have ample opportunities to expand their culinary prowess including off site gigs in Pebble Beach where 65 culinary students cook at events like the AT&T Golf Tournament and the Concours D’elegane, a luxury car show that took place Aug. 21.

The students enrolled are all very enthusiastic and eager to perfect their skills, “This is my second go around with the culinary thing, but I just love to cook. I’ve been doing it for seven years,” said Zach Matera, 22, a baking and pastry major. “It’s amazing, Chef Paul is a really amazing teacher, the staff is all top notch.”

Norine Wan, 27, also a baking and pastry major said, “I like it, working in the kitchen, it’s definitely helpful to students who want to pursue a career in food.”

As for the future of the program McGlynn said they are trying to put together a community based class for individuals not aiming for a degree. “It would be a community service thing, three days of teaching basic skills,” so even you can yield a knife like Chef Morimoto.

The Norseman, grill, express bar, and pastry shop are all now open, so head on over and check out all of the hard work the students and faculty have put in to serving up some of the finest food a campus can offer.