Impact Institute grooming America’s top chefs
Impact Institute grooming America’s top chefs
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 12:56 am, Sun Sep 14, 2014.
By Amy Oberlin
KENDALLVILLE — What’s the connection between northeastern Indiana and the finest culinary schools in the United States?
The Impact Institute, a vocational and adult education facility in Kendallville.
The Impact Institute offers morning and afternoon culinary classes in a commercial setting with the latest equipment to area high schoolers. The Culinary Institute of America and Johnson and Wales University are the “Harvard and Yale” of the culinary world, said Chef Peter Tzeschlock, who teaches daily courses at Impact Institute, along with chefs David Hettler and Kim Murphy.
“We’re sending kids into some of the finest culinary institutes in the country,” said Impact Institute director Jim Walmsley. “I think that speaks volumes for this program.”
Two Angola High School graduates were accepted to the Culinary Institute of America after completing two years at Impact. Samantha Rinard is attending the nationally reknowned chef school in Hyde Park, New York, and Cameron Ridenour has been contacted by CIA. A 2014 Prairie Heights High School graduate, Jessica Armstrong, is at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tzeschlock says a DeKalb County student ranks as the Impact Institute’s greatest culinary success story. Ashley Anderson is in her senior year at Johnson and Wales at Providence, Rhode Island. This year, Anderson received the Emeril Lagasse Award, a full-ride scholarship.
“It is only awarded to four out of 2,500 students,” said Tzeschlock. “We are very proud of her.”
The culinary course at Impact Institute, formerly known as Four County Vocational Cooperative, provides nine college credits over two years in cooperation with Ivy Tech. It also waives internship requirements at some restaurants.
It provides an introduction to French cuisine, food handling and the restaurant industry. It features a fully stocked kitchen with industrial appliances that include several SousVide temperature-controlled steam cookers.
“I would honestly say we’re the best in Indiana as far as high school goes,” Tzeschlock said.
The program grew from 19 students in the CrossPointe Family Church kitchen in 2007 to 60 this school year at Impact. Approximately 30 students from Angola, Fremont, Prairie Heights, Garrett, Westview, West Noble and Central Noble attend in the morning, and 30 more from DeKalb Central, DeKalb Eastern, Hamilton, East Noble and Lakeland schools are there in the afternoons.
Classroom time is minimal. Eighty percent of the time is spent in an apron in the kitchen, preparing food used in Hettler’s catering service or the deli, open Monday through Thursday, 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., at the Impact Institute, 580 Fairview Boulevard, Kendallville. It is available to the public and features student-made fare. Orders can be placed by Facebook at Impact Institute-Culinary Arts. Murphy oversees the deli, and often students work there as part of 25 extra hours in approved food-handling work required by the program.
The students are treated as adults and held to restaurant standards. With a focus on teamwork, they are taught to cook and bake commercially so the product is the same every time and prepared safely and attractively.
Wednesday, the second-year students were working with Murphy on ice cream. The first-year students were making chicken stock with Tzeschlock and Hettler. While some chopped vegetables and brought bones to a boil, others prepared for freezing 48 chicken breasts deboned by the morning class.
The instructors are networking with Bon Appetit at Trine University, which may hire some Impact students. The chefs attend workshops and seminars and visit college cafeterias to provide the most up-to-date lessons and the best opportunities.
“Cooking is such a huge field,” said Tzeschlock, a native of Germany who has 54 years of experience in the restaurant business. “They can go anywhere.”
Mark Stark, a senior at Eastside High School in Butler, plans to attend Ivy Tech with the credits he’s earning at Impact, and he hopes to someday be a head chef.
“I’d like to move away and be somewhere where it is hot all the time,” Stark said.
Steven Truelove, an Eastside junior, took the course because he enjoys cooking and wanted to learn more. Similarly, Emma Lucas, a senior at Hamilton High School, took the culinary course at Impact Institute because she felt confident with her academic abilities and wanted to do something interesting.
“I absolutely fell in love with cooking,” said Lucas. She said she also loves chefs Tzeschlock and Hettler.
“I doubt you could find two better guys,” Lucas said.
Hamilton High School senior Maddison Myers said she might go to Ivy Tech and is considering opening a bakery in Hamilton.
“This is a very good program,” said Myers. “You really learn to open up and meet new people.”