With many of our students interested in exploring careers in the culinary arts, getting a chance to see into the inner workings of a commercial kitchen is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. On Wednesday morning, the VSA Arts & Mentoring class got that chance with a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing culinary operations at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. We learned that on some days, the culinary department can serve as many as 4,500 people in their special events alone!
The tour started at the Hotel’s loading dock as the order of fresh fruits and vegetables was being delivered. Fresh produce is delivered daily to the hotel! From there, we toured the special kitchen used just for the produce. From special sinks to a full-sized cooler, the fresh fruits and vegetables are kept separate from all other aspects of the culinary prep to avoid any contamination.
We even met Executive Chef Josef Huber in the main kitchen, who was busy preparing for the lunch menu for the day. Speaking with Chef Sally, who was busy preparing bacon for a recipe, we learned about the training needed to work as a cook in the kitchen. Our own Grand Rapids Community College has one of the finest two-year culinary degree programs in the area and many of those graduates now work for the Hotel. Other line cooks learn their jobs through on-the-job training and many years of experience.
We thank Assistant Catering Director Darrin Lettinga for giving us this wonderful tour.