I work hard to train my students to be professional cooks. Kate Fiore , Chef Instructor , The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I have always been a creative person. Prior to my career in Culinary, I was a writer. It was at the age of 30 when I entered the culinary industry and really focused on that aspect of my life and created a new career for myself. It was an easy transition. I always loved cooking and I was always a creative person.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?
In this industry, especially working in traditional kitchens, you are faced with challenges daily. Some would say you have to have a serious demeanor and, while that is true, I am able to bring those experiences into the classroom. However, I also remember this is a learning experience for students. I like to think I teach my class from the beginning to end. I work hard to train my students to be professional cooks.
Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
In my A La Carte class it is definitely a space for mentorship. Not just from me, but from the older students in the class. I like to work with my students and not just teach them. I view myself as a Chef, not the teacher, so that they have real-world experience. I push them to step in and help each other, but they do a really good job with supporting one another and helping them achieve their goals. This class also has a student-run restaurant and the experience they get from running the front of the house to the back of the house is critical in their learning process.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
In order for a student to be successful, having 100% collaboration in the class is a must. They have to rely on each other’s strengths and help one another improve their weaknesses. Having success in a kitchen can be a challenge. There's always a lot going on. If you see that your classmate’s food is over-cooking, step in and turn the fire down. It’s ok! No one will be upset that you helped them out. Again, the older students who are career changers really contribute in the class. My background is art, so if there are opportunities for culinary students to collaborate with other programs that is awesome. Photography is a good opportunity for students to do that.
In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?
I want my students to be organized. Have a timeline of what you need to do and how you’re going to get there is important. That is the real world. You can’t be late. You can’t have excuses. You have to show up and deliver. The most critical advice I would offer my students is to love what you do. If the passion is there, you will love it and you will be good at it.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?
I once lived in Flores, Italy. I enjoyed the people, the culture, and the food. I loved the food so much that I brought some traditional dishes unique to Flores to be served on our menu in the student-run restaurant. I also have a degree in Art History.