Chef Kelly Funes

Chef Kelly Funes

There's a sense of urgency in the restaurant business—you have to work fast. Kelly Funes , Culinary Instructor , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University

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

Both of my grandmothers were great cooks, and they influenced my decision to become a chef.

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

I share what it’s like to work in the hospitality business. I treat the classroom like a restaurant. Students learn restaurant-style plating, timing, and cooking techniques. There’s a sense of urgency in the restaurant business—you have to work fast. I work to instill that in my students.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In my kitchen classes, I give students an Action Plan assignment. It prepares them for a typical day of cooking. They must type out recipes, and determine the food cost for one of their dishes. The assignment includes a timeline—a game plan of what they’re going to do and when. I also make sure to share my love for different ingredients and dishes that students aren’t familiar with.

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

Teamwork contributes a great deal to success. It gives students another point of view—and another side of the business. Culinary students may work with Interior Design or Graphic Design students in their portfolio class. Those disciplines are very important when it comes to opening a restaurant.

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

Work hard and be on time.