Lincoln Tech has 22 campuses located throughout the United States, and they have been educating tomorrow’s workforce since 1946. Lincoln Tech trains its students to enter the workforce in the automotive, skilled trades, health sciences, culinary, spa and cosmetology, and information technology career fields. They are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
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Bob Martin: Joining us today on this episode of Imagine America Radio is Dr. Susan Naples, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Shelton, Connecticut. Topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio: culinary careers. As a leading provider of quality education and training in culinary careers, we couldn’t think of anyone or any school better to talk to than Dr. Naples at Lincoln Tech.
First of all, may we call you Susan?
Susan Naples: Yes, you can.
Bob: Thank you. Appreciate it. Susan, thank you for joining us. For the benefit of our audience, could you please outline what a career in culinary arts entails and what does a current student at Lincoln Tech—culinary student—do in a culinary field, please?
Susan: Certainly. That’s a very good question. We have two programs in the food services industry. We have the culinary arts and food services and we have the international baking and pastry programs. Students who come to our school obviously have a desire and a love and a passion for cooking. Once they graduate from our school, they can certainly go into multiple venues in the food industry sector. They could become line cooks. They can become chefs. They can become sous chefs. Some of our students have gone on to open their own businesses!
Lee Doubleday: Susan—This is Lee, talking to Dr. Susan Naples. Thank you for going over that. A lot of our listeners probably don’t know this, but my dad is actually a culinary instructor at one of our local high schools, so this podcast is a little near and dear to my heart. But can you go over what the culinary industry looks like, as far as career outlook and expectations? Maybe both on a national level and then a little bit more granular in the Connecticut state?
Susan: Certainly. Statistically, by 2028 it’s projected that there will be a need to hire over one million people in the culinary industry across our country. In Connecticut alone, job growth is expected to be around 12,000 for culinary arts and food services and international baking and pastry.
Lee: Wow. A million people! Yeah, I mean, it’s no secret that culinary careers are in high demand so this seems like something worth getting an education in, and I have sort of a three-parted question for you. So the first one is should someone go to school to learn how to become a chef? What does a typical program include, and how long is a typical culinary program?
Susan: Sure. Sure. For students that are interested in coming into the culinary program, obviously, they’re interested in cooking. When we provide a tour for them, there’s a few things they’re looking for. They’re looking for a program that requires some really updated equipment, industry equipment. They’re looking for different culinary techniques—such as international cuisine, French, Asian, Italian, etc.—and programs in order to stay relevant with current work environments. The equipment is really critical. It needs to be state-of-the-art equipment.
Our programs are 16 months in length. That’s also for the culinary arts and food services and also for the international baking and pastry program.
Lee: Okay. And would you advise someone to go to school to learn how to become a chef or a sous chef in today’s environment?
Susan: One of the very interesting things about that is when our students come in—and our active students—they’re surrounded by executive chefs. I mean, these folks have worked in the industry for many, many years. The experience they bring to these students is instrumental in their ability to become more successful, more [inaudible] with the skills to be successful in the industry.
Lee: And I have one last question for you before turning it back over to Bob. So let’s say I’m interested in culinary and when I go to tour a campus—whether it’s yours or any other school out there in the country—what are a few things that I should be looking for as far as the culinary program? I’m assuming updated equipment, and I think you had actually mentioned that earlier. But what are a few things that I should be looking for? Give me sort of a checklist. Am I looking for whether or not the school is accredited or they have experienced faculty or even maybe partnerships with local employers? Can you touch on maybe two or three things that I should be looking for in a school if I’m interested in studying culinary?
Susan: Absolutely. That’s an excellent question. Interested students that are touring our school, they’re looking for the quality of the facility and interactions between the chef instructors and the students. They notice the pride we take in our department and the attention to detail that we placed in both classrooms and the kitchen learning environment. They should walk around with a sense of excitement that Lincoln can offer what they’re looking for. Our programs offer students the opportunity to work with the majority of equipment found in the food service industry. Our programs also offer the core techniques used in the industry, which are applied to the many diverse cultural cuisines. Both programs are accredited by ACF, which is the American Culinary Federation, and both programs have achieved the exemplary designation.
Our faculty have a wealth of industry and educational experience. The diversity of our faculty’s experience provides students with a unique opportunity to benefit from the wealth of expertise in a concentrated period of time. We pride ourselves on having partnerships with employers. One of our largest contracts is with the Disney organization. Our students complete their studies in-house, and then they will go on for an externship in Walt Disney World. Some of them have gone on to hotels from on the Disney property. Some have gone on to cruise ships. It’s just a very exciting adventure for our students.
Bob: Talking to Dr. Susan Naples, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Shelton, Connecticut. This is Bob Martin speaking.
Susan, real quickly, you’ve been in this business for a long time. You’ve seen students come and go. I’m interested in your insight. And what do you think are three or four personality traits that are going to make a good Lincoln student and a good employee? And then I got to believe that a number of your folks are thinking about going off on their own that would make them good employers.
Susan: That is correct. Some of them have actually gone to open up their own restaurants or they’ve opened up their own food trucks.
Three or four of the personality traits . . . Obviously, number one is the love of cooking—one that I admire greatly. Some of the other personality traits would be determination, desire, dedication, reliability, and interpersonal communication skills.
Bob: That’s great. I’m sitting here listening. I’m a very strong supporter of Disney. And I’m just wondering if I might’ve seen one or two of your kids when I’ve been down there because I’ve been down there a lot.
So first, we’re talking to Dr. Susan Naples with Lincoln Tech. Susan, here are my takeaways. As I understand it from what you’re telling us here, that culinary careers are in extremely high demand with job opportunities both nationally and regionally. And as I understand from you in today’s conversation, there’s going to be about a million new jobs in the culinary field and about 12,000 in the Connecticut area. Second, what I understand is that Lincoln Tech in Shelton, Connecticut, is a leading nationally accredited school providing education and training needed to fill these jobs right now.
Finally, Susan, I want to ask if you wouldn’t mind making yourself available for any questions that might come from our listeners from this episode. They might be potential students. They might be parents. They might be guidance counselors. Would you mind just repeating for our audience your contact information—emails, websites, telephone numbers, that sort of thing, please?
Susan: Certainly. They can go online at lincolntech.edu, Shelton campus. They can contact the school directly—(203) 929‑0592—and ask for me, or they can email me directly. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob: We want to thank today’s guest, Dr. Susan Naples at Lincoln Tech in Shelton, Connecticut. The topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio has been culinary careers. We want to also thank our podcast audience for taking time out of their busy and hectic schedule to listen to this episode of Imagine America Radio. To avoid missing any future editions, go to Spotify or Apple and click on the Imagine America Radio logo.
On behalf of my colleague, Lee Doubleday, and myself, please be safe, and we’ll be talking to you all very soon. Thank you.