Chef Juan Martinez
Culinary Adjunct Instructor
The Art Institute of Phoenix
Student success in part falls back on how instruction was administered. If we care, they care. Chef Juan M. Martinez , Culinary Adjunct Instructor , The Art Institute of Phoenix
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
We are all destined to have a defining moment. For some it comes early and others it happens possibly after a second career. Most of our lives we are employed in successful careers but not completely enamored with our work. In my case, I was always entertaining simply because I enjoyed cooking to a degree that was beyond normal home cooking. I enjoyed being detailed with a variance of uniqueness. I was looking forward to my retirement from the Air Force to embark into a career that was truly my calling. Wait 24 years to finally achieve your creative professional opportunity. Considering that I began my culinary career later that most chefs; I had a drive that rivaled anyone in this industry.
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?
Our classroom work is incumbent on our professional background. First you must apply all expectations of our job to personal experiences that relate to each day that you teach. Students want to know and expect your point of view in each segment of kitchen life as it will apply to them; this is where the reality, challenges and opportunity come into to play. The reality of teaching and conveying real world expectations can be a hard pill to swallow. In our field; hard work, integrity, commitment and ethics are a must and you have to say it. Student success in part falls back on how instruction was administered. If we care, they care.
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?
Class assignments are an integral part of student success, my approach is that homework will lead to success or the lack of it will lead to failure. Student hands on training are an ultimate desire and usually with great results; in addition it keeps them interested enough to usually be present for each class. I want students to always have a positive critique as part of their day end review. While no one is perfect there is an accomplished person waiting to surface. Praise will give confidence and that will result a better expectation beyond their perceived limits.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
I am a firm believer in class collaboration and it is a part of my everyday objectives. Student confidence is higher in both leading and class application. Each student feels important and realizes that the team success points back to them. Collaboration helps with an on time timeline (how we gauge our strategy) whether as a student or professional. It applies to all aspects of a successful operation. 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?
That they can be successful, while we teach our students fundamentals; My list of objectives for our class is a continuance of theory when applied it cannot fail. Our generation of students is varied but they all have the basic concept to rise above their expectation. I will tell our students in each class as they move onward of the responsibility and challenge that awaits them. If they move on to another class I tell them to apply all they learned in my class. Graduating students need positive feedback as they lose the bond they had at school.
My most critical advice is to approach each day with a positive attitude, to do well, to have an incentive to learn and do more, to volunteer, to assist the chef and show their self-worth. Most importantly; to be patient and wait on the opportunity to be presented and having been prepared just makes it that much more enjoyable. Each student that leaves our culinary program has a chef living inside them and surface it will.
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
The Art Institute of Phoenix is a choice faculty and students realize, I believe it’s a great place for faculty because we have multiple opportunities based on our degrees, skills and schedules. I am relatively new to Ai but feel that I am very fortunate to have been asked to become part of an outstanding group of chefs. My success story continues in our Chef World and I have been fortunate to have achieved four certifications, inducted into the American Academy of Chefs, will be inducted into the Chaines des Rotisseurs in December of 2016 and currently nominated for Chef of the Year for the American Culinary Federation.
Thank you The Art Institutes and to our President, Dean and Culinary Director.