What is the Bocuse D’Or?

Chef Philip Tessier explains the importance of the competition and the preparation process.

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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


Mad5 Recap

Video reflection of one of the best weekends of my professional career!

If you look r….e…..a…..l closely, you can see me @2:13, eating lunch with Claudine and Jacques Pepin!

MAD5 Recap from on Vimeo.

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Posted by on October 18, 2016 in Mad5, Tomorrow's Kitchen


#EFMOC Examples From My Own Cooking

#EFMOC Examples From My Own Cooking

This is worth putting up again as I bet culinary teachers are still cooking dinner…

Mise en Plaos

Have you ever been making something at home and thought to yourself, “I wish I could show this to my students, this is a great example of…”?  I have found it’s always more engaging and memorable for students when an example has a personal connection and I believe people are naturally fascinated with what others cook and eat.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource showing non-textbook examples and what of connecting with other culinary educators with similar skills and interest?  If everyone who wanted to share and create such an archive would post a picture on twitter with a brief description and #EFMOC for #examplesfrommyowncooking this could very simply become a reality.  I have posted a pretty good example of onions cooked to the translucent phase, a term that many students find to be confusing.  Why don’t you add to this resource the next time you are making…

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Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Text and Graphics in a Yellow Wood

Taking a step beyond the beginner’s mind and adding text to images is moving into territory perhaps too familiar.  Gone are the difficulties of translating abstract ideas or difficult-to-draw trademark free objects, as those irritants are soothed by the ancient balm of text.  This most customary combination reduces the time needed to produce the design and allows the instructor to focus on the message instead of the media.  At the same time it dramatically increases the ease of comprehension by the learner who has seen this combination of media since infancy.   It allows instruction to be more widely differentiated as novices need more graphic representations whereas learners with more expertise can scan or skip them and go to the part of the text they need.  Text with graphics allows the easy communication of details and abstract concepts through text and the concise, rich and universal information that graphics provide.

However this familiarity can beget some contemptible offspring.  Complacency in the use of this media can lead to a lack of originality and reduce student engagement.  Old habits and lack of attention to details can lead to

 “The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it.” – William Whyte (Whyte 1950)

When dealing with the familiar, it becomes easier to fall prey to the trap of assuming the other party understands what seems obvious to the instructor.   Becoming enamored with the details, instruction materials can become too baroque and instead of concision, the combination can lead to confusion and misunderstanding through overuse and busyness.

As with so many things, text and graphics can be extremely synergistic and powerful, easy to use and easy to understand, but when not used judiciously can be confusing or even misinformative.  While it is faster and easier to create instructional materials with text and graphics it requires more discipline of the instructor to be sure to look at the subject with a fresh perspective and not carry students down the rutted path just because it is familiar.  Exploration and inquiry come from the path less travelled.

Whyte, W. (1950) Is anybody listening? Fortune, 42, No. 3, 77-83, 167-178.

File:Two Paths Diverged in a wood.JPG uploaded to wikimedia by Nathan Wert

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Best practices, CECS 5110


The Gateless Gate

Gate to nowhere - - 849441

In Zen Buddhism there are mental exercises called Koans that encourage practitioners to look at ideas from different angles.  One of the most well-known Koans asks “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” and encourages the student to think beyond logical paradox.  Creating instruction without the use of text of any kind requires the designer to look at the subject and its diverse details from a completely different perspective by peeling away the complacency of the familiar.  It also highlights the separation of the instructional material and the media used to communicate it.

Dr. Richard Clark’s notion that media is no more responsible for learning than the impact that a truck that delivers food to a grocer has on the nutrition of the shoppers (Clark 1983) on the surface seems fanciful and perhaps Luddite given the effort, resources and focus the education community has put on the use of media in the last few decades. Many of his points however are perfectly valid and were brought into great relief by the Koan-like exercise of creating visual-only instructional material.  It is the separation of media from instructional method that is the core of Clark’s argument and he asserts that if properly designed, the same outcomes will result regardless of the media used.   I believe he is correct that the focus should be on designing instruction using learning theory and cognition and not on the media used to communicate that instruction (Clark 1994).  Especially in our present whirlwind of mobile technology that promises to become ever more prevalent and more personalized, it is easy to be swept up in enthusiasm and marketing for the gadget and not pay proper attention to the material being presented.

That being said, pragmatism is called for when optimizing the communication of that material and attention must be paid to presentation.  Kozma details the influence that the choice of media can have on facilitating learning, especially the use of graphics and visuals and thier impact on the comprehension of the user dependent upon the user’s personal expertise (Kozma 1991).  The media isn’t the message, but it is a tool that has an effect on the user and how they engage with it.  There are several different varieties of whisks for specific tasks and all of them will mix, but the context matters in their efficacy.  One can make whipped cream with a roux whisk, but it will certainly take longer and has a better chance of becoming butter instead of crème Chantilly.

Ballon, Spiral and Ball Whisks

Different Tools, Related Functions

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

The future of media is mobile and personal and I predict it is on the cusp of an era where true personalization will be not only technologically possible but affordable.  Educators will need to design 360 degree learning materials based on cognitive and learning theory that can then be presented in whatever media best facilitates the learning of the end user.  Using a single media is very limiting and not as versatile as multiple media but it does bring the instructional designer to a Beginner’s Mind and allows them to see the essential details of the instructional method behind the presentation.

Clark, R (1983) Reconsidering research on learning from media.  Review of Educational Research, 53, No. 4, 445-459.  DOI: 10.3102/00346543053004445

Clark, R (1994) Media and methods.  Educational Technology Reseach and Development, 42, No. 3, 7-10.  DOI: 10.1007/BF02298090

Kozma, R (1991) Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61, No. 2, 179-211.  DOI: 10.3102/00346543061002179

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in CECS 5110


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Tune in Tonight: Many Rivers to Cross With Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Tune in Tonight: Many Rivers to Cross With Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

I saw this program yesterday and it was very well done, informative and engaging. Check it out if you get a chance!


With Dr. Henry Louis Gates wrapping up taping of part of Many Rivers to Cross With Dr. Henry Louis Gates wrapping up taping of part of Many Rivers to Cross

I am delighted to announce tlhat I will be appearing on the first episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Tuesday, October 22, 2013.  Set your DVRs now 🙂   There will be repeats so catch those too!

Hoppin’ John from the Lowcountry and Black  Eyed Pea (Cala au Congri) and Rice Cakes (Cala) from the Chesapeake and Lower Mississippi Valley
and to find your local listing for the program:
The first episode is called THE BLACK ATLANTIC 1500-1800 and deals with the earliest experiences of the African American people from our origins in West and Central Africa through the early colonial period into the 18th century.  One of the aspects of this shift in culture and identity is through food.  I was…

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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Food Issues


People Like to Look at Pretty Things

People Like to Look at Pretty Things

I try to point out the underlying motivations and logic behind as much of the foodservice industry as I can in my class.  One such moment occurs when I walk through the different positions of a traditional Front of House as I point out that humans enjoy beauty and that smart restaurateurs pay attention to one of the most critical points in the customer experience.  It is a fact of the industry that often the most physically attractive employee is the host which is also the first person the customer sees.  It is the host’s primary duty to make the customer feel welcome and if the host is attractive, it is biologically less likely that the customer will turn around and walk out.

In media, color theory and visual design work together to create an underlying framework that promotes engagement through a very basic human concept:  beauty.  For many years I have used a quote to introduce my students to knife skills:  “Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.” – Pearl Buck.  It speaks directly to why it is important for them to put in the time and effort to learn how to create the traditional shapes of batonnet, small dice, julienne and brunoise with precision and consistency.  Not only does it teach them how to use a knife, but it emphasizes the significance of appearance by bringing order and thereby adding value to the final product because customers eat with their eyes first.

When a teacher is trying to communicate anything, the first order of business is to get the learners attention and it is useful to remember that students often learn with their eyes first.  Paying attention to the elements of color and design helps to create media that humans want to look at and can bring greater understanding as well as easier recall by evoking an emotional reaction in the viewer.  When instruction is designed to be attractive and informative it can increase engagement and retention but as with almost anything, if that design calls attention to itself, it becomes distracting.  While it might increase engagement, the learner could be focusing on the design instead of the information.  Instruction can use the elements of color theory and design in any visual media from print to video but as with a good movie, those elements must support and enhance the instructional narrative and direct the learners attention towards the intended objective rather than call attention to themselves and thereby disrupt the narrative.  Like so many things, instructional design must follow the Goldilocks rule:  not too much, not too little, but just right.


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