Connecting food, farms through education

College culinary arts professor wants his students to 'respect food.'

Chef Paul Bringas, right, demonstrates how to cut up a whole chicken during Flavors of Ag, an Illinois Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom and consumer education workshop. Bringas teaches Joliet Junior College culinary arts students. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
Chef Paul Bringas, right, demonstrates how to cut up a whole chicken during Flavors of Ag, an Illinois Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom and consumer education workshop. Bringas teaches Joliet Junior College culinary arts students. (Photo by Catrina Rawson).
By Kay Shipman

Chef Paul Bringas remains a consummate educator whether he’s demonstrating chicken “fabrication” for a group of educators or discussing the reality of food production to his Joliet Junior College (JJC) culinary arts students.

Bringas, a culinary arts professor, recently switched seamlessly between those roles while wielding a knife and deftly cutting up a whole, raw chicken during the Flavors of Ag, an Illinois Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom and consumer education workshop.

“It was an opportunity for consumers to see inside the culinary world – the attention to quality, detail, care for equipment, sanitation, safety and letting nothing go to waste. There are many similarities to farming,” said Linda Olson, IFB consumer communications specialist.

Prior to the in-depth culinary demonstration, workshop participants received a crash course on understanding new nutrition fact labels and learning how biotechnology research at the University of Illinois seeks to improve lives.

About 40 workshop attendees glimpsed JJC’s new culinary arts facility before being treated to a three-course meal that highlighted locally sourced ingredients prepared by Bringas, other JJC culinary staff and culinary art students and recent graduates.

“We are all about (food) utilization and not waste,” Bringas said, as he dropped discarded bits of chicken bone and other parts into a container for chicken stock. “This is a time for students to understand that food does not show up in a white truck. Somebody grew it. There’s a whole lot more to being a chef than just ordering food.”

Bringas shared a story of visiting a local farm and returning to the college with fresh beets pulled from the soil. He recounted his students’ surprise at the root vegetables’ condition: “They’re all muddy!”

“I want students to be aware of where food comes from,” Bringas said. “I want students to respect food so when they’re in my position – well, I don’t want them to disrespect food.”

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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