Steven J. Pilat

Never burn bridges. It's a small world—and even smaller industry. Steven J. Pilat , Chef Instructor , The Art Institute of Dallas, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I was 15 I got my first job, frying chicken for a local fast food restaurant—and I was hooked. I’ve been in the foodservice industry ever since.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

It’s incredibly important to relate industry standards to the classroom and lab portion of the curriculum. There’s a clear expectation that a culinary worker will adhere to them, so they must be incorporated into the learning experience.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Everyone should fail. There will never be a perfect dish, sauce, cake, or pie. Failure will lead you to success by making sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Diversity always sheds new light on a project. Having a mini “think tank’ of ideas can be a valuable asset for any project.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Never burn bridges. It’s a small world—and even smaller industry. Eventually everyone gets to know everyone, so use the network to your advantage. Share what you have with others—and the community.