Innovative program and high-profile instructors produce gold-medal students

For aspiring chefs, the Culinary Arts Institute at Lorain County Community College is a preferred learning destination. Program Director Chef Adam Schmith has assembled top-notch instructors to provide the knowledge and experience students need to enter the growing Northeast Ohio culinary scene.

“We’ve found our identity as a leader in culinary education,” Schmith says. “We build our curriculum to represent what the national programs and larger universities are doing. But our goal is to redevelop it and show what kind of talent we can produce.”

Krystowski and Schmith
Jordan Krystowski with LCCC Chef Adam Schmith

During the spring semester, LCCC’s culinary program took two gold and five bronze medals at the Greater Northeast Ohio Culinary Classic. One of the winning team members, Jordan Krystowski, also competed in an individual culinary competition through the American Culinary Federation, where she earned a gold medal. Following the win, she and Schmith appeared on a WKYC segment featuring Sage & Seed, LCCC’s student-run restaurant.

“You prep your station, and the next day, you’re open for service,” says Krystowski, who aspires to be a culinary instructor. “You spend eight weeks in the back of the house in the kitchen, and eight weeks in the front. It’s not about the techniques to cook — it’s about learning the restaurant experience itself.”

LCCC’s culinary arts program teaches students about culinary both from a cooking and a business perspective, and how the two mesh together, says Schmith.

“Last summer, we partnered with five local farms to show our support of their product and use it in our classes,” Schmith says. “Students learn that food doesn’t just arrive in boxes. There’s a lot of heart, time and passion that goes into growing these products.”

The program provides expert instruction across disciplines, from contemporary to international cuisine and pastries to beverages. And the teaching talent is best in class. LCCC’s Farm to Fork class is led by Chef Brad Ball, an executive chef alongside Michael Symon since 2008. Schmith has more than 30 years of experience with organizations such as Ritz Carlton and Hilton Hotels. And instructor Ashley Black is a pastry chef with experience in bread and baking development at Panera.

“All of my adjunct instructors are graduates of a culinary institute,” Schmith says. “We’re bringing a lot of what’s happening in the industry here and teaching outside of the books.”

For Krystowski, the training and experience she received led her to a full-time job as food service director for Oberlin City Schools and the opportunity to fulfill a piece of her instructor aspirations. She spent the summer between graduation and the start of her new position teaching adult and youth cooking classes in the college’s culinary program.

“Culinary is a growing program with so much potential,” Krystowski says. “I love to see how excited the kids get when they create something on their own, especially when it’s something they can take home and share with their families, using the skills they learned.”

Sage & Seed is open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, January through May. For more information, visit www.lorainccc.edu/sageandseed.