Chef John Maroon

Chef John Maroon

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

The first big catering gig I ever did, where I wound up in a bad spot and had to come up with some quick answers forcing me to make something out of nothing.

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?

I infuse experiential knowledge into the academics to create the bridge necessary for students to see the real-world expectation of what they will attempt to do. I refuse to fool them from understanding what will genuinely be celebrated, abhorred, dismissed, embraced, and disputed. Once I have fostered their understanding of how to do it, the next goal is for them to have a clear understanding of how good will it need to be to succeed in the job.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Very rarely, and in few jobs, will someone work without some type of collaboration with another person. Trust and accountability are just a couple of words that must exist where people have to exist in a collaborative nature to be productive in their roles. It’s good to be task oriented to see things to completion. However, to have a balance of this with the soft skill of people orientation, in a truly harvesting environment — 1+1=3 — and more can get done.

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?

In my opinion, no one cares about your grades except you. No interviewer is going to ask you what grade you got in my fundamentals class. However, they will probably ask you to dice an onion, butcher a chicken or scramble some eggs. They will definitely ask you to do some math. I’ve seen “A” students fold like cheap suits in working interviews while watching “C” students excel. No one will really care what you know, many will care what you can do. Then, they will ask you to prove it. 

The information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.