- Certified AllerTrain™ Master Trainer
- Bachelor of Science with a focus in Dietetics from Michigan State University
- Dietetic Internship with Western Michigan University
- Associate in Applied Arts & Sciences with a Concentration in Culinary Arts from Grand Rapids Community College
What are the strengths of the culinary program?
The staff. The instructors in our program are so dedicated to the students and intentional about providing them every opportunity that the industry and their own willpower and talents will allow. As an alumnus of the program, I often felt thoroughly challenged and encouraged to exceed even my own expectations. Our instructors really help our students see their potential.
What do you like best about being a culinary professor?
Nutrition is a fascinating subject, but in the context of culinary arts, the discussion gets even more exciting and "delicious." I love seeing the "aha" moment on a student's face when he or she has learned something new about how the body works or how food is affecting it. I also enjoy the challenge when students come to class with questions that help the whole class expand the day's discussion into more than just our lesson.
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started out?
Don't hesitate, or be afraid, to travel if an opportunity presents itself. I think I would have significantly benefited going with the culinary teams in our department, either for internships or a single class, when I was a student. Later I did travel with my undergrad work, and I realized the world is a fantastic place to discover in the realm of education. Also, if you work hard to save money for a trip, there's almost always a way to make it work.
What is your current obsession?
Wellness and allergies. Those two things don’t seem to go together, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading about how people get accustomed to feeling poorly, and food allergies or food intolerances play a role. I enjoy study about the nutrients we consume (or choose not to consume) and how that can affect our enjoyment of life or our mental clarity.
Having personal experience with allergies within my family, I am well aware of the importance of proper food handling and avoidance of cross contact. I also find it fascinating that allergies do not always present themselves in a typical manner, but sometimes with minimal symptoms that are easily ignored, which goes back to my connection to wellness study.
Avoiding cross contact is the first step, but studying alternative cooking options for things like milk, eggs, and gluten is also my focus. Proper food handling of allergens and avoiding cross-contact is our future in the culinary field. The safety of our students and their future customers is motivation for building a strong foundation of allergy awareness in my classes and how they can avoid cross-contact in their work space and restaurants while still providing delicious options.
Who is your hero? Why?
I think the people we admire can change with the stages of life and depending on the obstacles we face. Right now my father comes to mind. He has taught me that hard work, good humor, sincerity, and integrity can provide personal as well as professional success.
- Nutrition & Menu Planning (CA112)