Two Sowela culinary arts students have big plans for future

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Food establishments open daily, and the industry is expected to triple in the next decade. At Sowela Technical Community College, 75 students are preparing to fill job openings, or start their own restaurants.

One of the 75 students is Harold Duhon.

“I always enjoyed cooking and have fond memories of my grandfather in the kitchen,” Duhon said. “I’m retired and heard about Sowela’s culinary program from a friend, so I registered for classes. “It’s a great way to relearn the Cajun and Creole recipes that my grandfather made. We take a regional cuisine class, and many classes have a Tex/Mex element to them.”

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The two-year program was established in 1989 and prepares students to work in service production, fast foods and baking areas of the food service industry. Classes may include nutrition, knife techniques, food presentation, service presentation, culinary math principles, restaurant concepts, management and operations, professional cake decorating, artisan bread making and for students who didn’t learn at home, the opportunity to turn out the perfect biscuit. (This is The South and that is not a skill at which to scoff.)

Upon successful completion of the program, students receive an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts. Sowela’s program also offers a baking and pastry arts concentration. Classes are available on campus or 100 percent online.

“Cooking is like a superpower,” said culinary arts student Sabrina Heffron. “You get to nurture people and make art all at the same time. There will never be a day when people don’t need to eat. The chefs make learning fun, and they don’t leave anyone behind. They are patient, very experienced and make sure you understand the information. After I graduate, I want to own my own cafe with a community feel, live music and incorporate both baking and cooking.”

According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, chefs or food service managers are four-and five-star jobs based on occupational outlook, education requirements and salary. On average, chefs can make about $14 an hour or more with experience and food service managers make upwards of $49 an hour, according to the Commission.