Colleen McDonough, MBA

Culinary Arts

Chef Instructor
The Art Institute of Philadelphia

Colleen McDonough

Consider how your actions may affect your chances of being promoted. Colleen McDonough, MBA , Chef Instructor , The Art Institute of Philadelphia

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

There was never a time when creativity didn’t play a part in my career. Even in my earliest and least-creative jobs, people always told me I was creative. As I matured in the culinary field, I learned to look at situations and products from an original viewpoint. Throughout my career, creativity has taken on a greater role and become a core part of my success.

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

The skills, attitude, and sophisticated understanding of food and the food service business that I’ve developed over 20 years in commercial kitchens and 20+ years in academic kitchens are the primary drivers of my approach to teaching. I integrate real-life scenarios into every lab class. I try to structure kitchen exercises as closely as possible to the way they happen in a typical commercial kitchen. I’m up and moving most of the time, so students see how an experienced chef moves rapidly and precisely through tasks in the kitchen. I set the example I want them to emulate.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Every assignment requires a combination of reading from the text, outside research, and developing ideas for production that reflect their growing understanding of the week’s subject without depending on recipes. I make suggestions and offer resources through Doc Sharing on eCompanion.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

In my kitchen classes, I give students a week to research and develop their ideas for both individual and group products. They work in teams to identify the best ideas and make a final decision about what the team will produce and how best to distribute the work. They present their products as a group and share how their choices led to the success or failure of each item on the platter. Students make great progress from the first week’s turnout to the last by learning to work together toward a common goal.

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

Consider how your actions may affect your chances of being promoted. You’ll be judged on soft skills like attitude, speed, and cleanliness, and teamwork throughout your career.