Chef Kurt Lechner

Chef Kurt Lechner

My Austrian heritage as a pastry chef makes me extremely proud because Austrian pastry chefs are some of the most respected around the world. Chef Kurt Lechner , Faculty, Baking and Pastry , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a teacher?

My father was a carpenter and he wanted me to follow in his footsteps. I had other ideas and was a rebel from the start. My mom was not a good cook and I needed to find a way to eat well. This lead me to my career in baking and pastry. 

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?


With about 41 years of life and culinary experience, I have a lot of knowledge to share with my students. I, too, went through school and my teachers were hard on me, so I can relate to their journey. I try to keep reminding them that it takes years of experience to be a true professional. 

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?

Often, in class, it is hard for students to conceptualize a dish. However, at the end of class, when they see their creation, they are so impressed. This keeps them coming back. The demos also help—most of my students are visual learners. 

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

It's all collaboration in the kitchen. You need to be a communicator and professional. If you don't respect people, this is not the profession for you. 

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?

Be humble, be kind, and be professional. Be willing to learn. 

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?

My Austrian heritage as a pastry chef makes me extremely proud because Austrian pastry chefs are some of the most respected around the world. I have a masters degree in confectionery, I made two bronze medals in Germany from the culinary Olympics with The Art Institute of California—San Diego team in 2012, and I have been married for 36 years. My favorite hobby is golf—and I'm pretty good at it. I've seen many countries in my life and one of my favorites places is Key West.