Art Institutes

Culinary

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Bring your talent to the table.

If you want to enrich the world with your talent for creating amazing cuisine—or ambiance—start by experiencing everything from kitchen skills to international flavors.

Program Areas

The Art Institutes Baking & Pastry School

Baking & Pastry

* New degree program offering—Baking & Pastry, Associate of Science. Use your talent and passion to turn desserts into works of art. You’ll explore everything from plating to preparing confections to managing a commercial kitchen.

The Art Institutes Culinary Arts School

Culinary Arts

* New degree program offering—Culinary Arts, Associate of Science. Starting with fundamentals like kitchen tools and culinary techniques, you’ll explore more than 20 of the most popular international flavors and techniques.

Pittsburgh Hospitality Management Degree

Culinary Management

* New degree program offering—Culinary Management, Bachelor of Science. Prepare to run both the kitchen and the front of the house, using your passion for food and your head for business to create a memorable dining experience.

Pittsburgh Hospitality Management Degree

Hospitality Food & Beverage Management

You can learn your way around both the front and back of the house while you prepare for the challenge of bringing something new to the table for demanding consumers.

Meet Our Faculty

  • Mick Opalko

    Mick Opalko

    Graphic & Web Design

    "You need an insatiable desire to design the best possible solution for every product."

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

    It was when I realized that I saw people, buildings, and landscapes differently; I saw them as shapes, texture, lights and darks, colors, and subjects.

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

    I remind my students that, in addition to creativity, it’s important to verbally and visually communicate a clear message. And doing that takes hard work, research, and always staying current.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?


    I have students create a 3D point-of-purchase display. They start by choosing and researching a product and determining a message. They present thumbnail sketches for classroom critique, then revise their sketches for another round of critique. We go over materials, processes, cost, and feasibility. And finally they present their final display for final critique covering design, concept, typography, communication and craftsmanship.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

    Teamwork is all about sharing knowledge among students from different disciplines, and learning to communicate in a positive, effective way.

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


    The main thing I want students to remember is that people are important.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?


    You need an insatiable desire to design the best possible solution for every product.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I started my career teaching here 39 years ago. It’s made me a much better person, artist and, hopefully, mentor. Read More...
  • Andrew Briskar

    Andrew Briskar

    Digital Filmmaking & Video Production

    "Be ready to tackle the day's challenge."

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    Andrew Briskar

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

    When I was young, my grandfather gave me some of his old stereo equipment, tape recorders, and microphones. I loved to connect and disconnect the components, listen to music and record songs from the radio. I realized my future was as a creative professional when I started to merge these skills and record my own music.

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

    I started teaching after I’d worked a number of years for several production and recording companies. That experience taught me what it takes to succeed in the industry. I use it to teach students about industry expectations. My class assignments come as close as possible to the challenges they’ll face in the real world.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    In one of my audio production classes, students work on a challenging assignment in which they collaborate in a group, just as they would as part of a real-world production team. First, they replace all the sound in a given video clip. Next, they demonstrate their technical skills in the audio studio. They develop their creativity as they learn to listen critically and explore possibilities. They have to overcome many challenges simultaneously as they build the skills they’ll need in a career in digital production.

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

    Students who collaborate with others, especially from other programs, are often able to produce their best work. If you can work as part of a team, recognize others’ talent, and be open to creative dialogue, you have a solid foundation for career success.

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

    Be on time, prepared, and alert. Be ready to tackle the day’s challenge.

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  • Angela Love

    Media Arts & Animation

    "Embrace the time it takes to master something."

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

    As a child, I was chosen to attend the Tam O'Shanter Saturday morning art classes at the Carnegie Museum—the same program Andy Warhol and Philip Pearlstein attended. I believe that set me on a creative path that led me here.

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

    The many professional contacts I’ve made in the local creative community help me seamlessly connect the classroom to the real world. I’ve been able to put my students together with external clients, and that exposure has provided valuable insight.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching, mentoring, and pushing your students beyond their own perceived limits?

    My Character and Object Design for Animation class not only teaches students to create a variety of characters, it helps them strengthen their own character. I start by challenging students to choose the grade they want; they then have to earn it through the work they put in. The tenacity it takes to reach their goal shows how much creative fuel they have in their artistic tanks. It’s proven to be a pivotal project—both for those who tackle it and for the ones who shy away from it.

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

    Nothing prepares a student better for the real world of teamwork than collaborative projects. They get a chance to work on their soft skills along with their technical skills. They learn to work through their differences, understand the importance of being reliable, support each other, and share knowledge.

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

    Tenacity. You have to embrace the time it takes to master something.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    Accept that it's likely going to take longer than you think to get where you want to go.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    It’s a privilege to help students progress through their chosen programs and find their creative paths. Read More...
  • Ed_Petrosky

    Ed Petrosky

    Digital Photography

    "Never stop learning. And never be satisfied."

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

    I always loved drawing and giving visual expression to my thoughts and ideas. When I took my first formal photography class at a local community college, I was hooked. I discovered that I could express my ideas and earn a living at the same time.

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

    There’s nothing more satisfying for me than seeing my students graduate and begin a career doing what they love most—taking pictures. As both a professional photographer and a teacher, I stress the importance of becoming a creative problem solver...and an artist who understands the tools of your craft. I emphasize the development of both skills and concepts; the first is superficial without the second, and the second is unintelligible without the first.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    In Color Management/Printing, my students develop a series of photographs based on a project of their own choice. The only requirement is that they create a unified visual document for each component that adds to the overall message, while demonstrating mastery of color and printing techniques.

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

    Considering the complexity of the skills it takes to work on a large-scale project, the ability to interact with others is critical. Teamwork encourages students to seek out others with specialized skills to solve problems. It not only builds interpersonal skills, but contributes to deeper learning.

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

    Work hard, don't give up, and be persistent.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    Never stop learning. And never be satisfied. Read More...
  • Jeff Zehner

    Jeff Zehner

    Game Art & Design

    "Embrace change, because it often brings new opportunities."

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    Jeff Zehner

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

    I realized I had art skills when I won first place in a first-grade art contest.

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

    I use the skills I’ve learned making four internationally-released games, as well as running my own company, to make the classroom experience as real and relevant as possible. And I’m able to offer insights into how the industry has changed over the last 25 years.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    I usually fashion class assignments to reflect the kind of deliverables that’ll be expected of students once they’re working in the industry.

    In what way do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    I make it clear that I expect the quality of their work to be up to the industry standard. Students generally respond by striving to do their best—and they often surprise themselves.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

    Most jobs in the industry require working with others. Students should practice working together in teams to help prepare themselves for the real world.

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

    In this industry, change is constant. To keep up with all the advances in gaming, you need to keep learning.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    Embrace change, because it often brings new opportunities.

    Read More...
  • Fashion

    Rikki Hommel

    Fashion Design

    "Learn how to take constructive criticism—and how to give it."

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    Rikki Hommel

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

    As soon as I stepped into the classroom.

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

    My experience allows me to hold students to industry standards, and it means I can share relevant examples that ground the learning in the real-world.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    I try my best to get the students involved with their projects by building assignments around ideas that inspire each of them. I don’t put any major restrictions on them, and that frees students to take more ownership of their work.

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

    Learn how to take constructive criticism—and how to give it.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    Meet deadlines. And work not just as an individual, but as part of a team.

    Read More...
  • Shawn O

    Shawn O'Mara

    Graphic & Web Design

    "You need to be in love with graphic design and this industry."

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    Shawn O'Mara

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

    That was when I first started here at Ai Pittsburgh, and I found out that people actually get paid to do what they love.

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

    I own a design studio on the South Side. So my classroom lectures are based on the real world, drawing from my professional work and my interactions with my clients. I make sure that my coursework reflects the changes in the industry.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    All my assignments focus on brainstorming and coming up with concepts. I think pushing students to deliver solid concepts and tight thumbnails can help them achieve personal success.

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

    Several of my classes, like Design Studio (a simulated ad agency) and PGHYOU magazine (a publication- building class), bring students from different majors together. They get hands-on practice working with other professionals, which they’ll need when they enter the workforce.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    You need to be in love with graphic design and this industry. But don’t fall in love with any of your designs, because it all comes down to what the client loves.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I’ve taught here for over 25 years. I’m so proud of all the amazing designers that I’ve helped to enter their dream career field.

    Read More...