255eaf80 3086 4ccb 89b6 1496f09f1156LAKE CHARLES, La (press release) – With home cooked meals gaining increased importance as entire populations are asked to stay home due to the COVID-19 crises, SOWELA Technical Community College is expanding its newly instituted Online Culinary Program to all U.S. residents with the exception of those in California. Launched in 2019, the college’s Online Culinary Program was the first program of its kind in the entire state of Louisiana.

The program was initiated in response to Louisiana Workforce Commission data – prior to the COVID-19 crisis – showing the state is expected to see a 14.9 percent increase in hospitality employment opportunities by 2026. However, the program is open to anyone interested in the culinary arts – from home chefs looking to improve their skills to those with the goal of becoming Michelin-star chefs.

Led by Program Coordinator Chef Jerry Sonnier, the Online Culinary Program features courses with a wide breadth of interest areas for potential chefs including Essentials of Dining Room Service, Regional Cuisine, Garde Manger, Introduction to Baking and Pastry and more.

To grade online culinary students, SOWELA’s Culinary Arts Program has developed a first-of-its-kind grading rubric for prepared dishes. Students will also be required to take pictures and/or videos of their preparation, cooking and final dish.

“Our Online Culinary Arts Program has assembled an elite group of instructors to lead our culinary students. We have instructors with training from prestigious culinary institutions such as Le Cordon Bleu, Johnson and Wales University, Louisiana’s own Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System,” said Sonnier. “Working with these instructors, we’ve been able to develop a unique grading rubric for our online students’ prepared dishes that includes a flavor profile with the primary elements of flavor, as well as texture and temperature.”

“The ability to offer online programming helps the college reach a broader student population and provide them more course offerings. SOWELA is one of very few colleges that offers a Culinary degree totally online,” said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. “This unique program helps the college prepare a skilled and qualified workforce for the culinary as well as the hospitality industry. Our dedicated and experienced Culinary instructors have been instrumental in planning, creating, and implementing this unique online degree. Interest in the program is very high and current enrollment is growing.”

Registration for the summer and fall programs is currently open. Those interested in learning more or enrolling can visit https://www.sowela.edu/culinary-arts-online.