Chef Johnson is easily the toughest chef at the CIA. Not because he yells, screams or throws food across the kitchen. But rather the way he teaches and grades. Lets start with grading. Chef has a fondness for timing and in an industry that focuses so much on being quick and timely I can understand why. The grading for class was very simple. You have a deadline for all prep work to be completed. This was typically 10.30am. But for each minute late that team lost 4 points up to a cap of 50 points.
The first 3 days my group and I failed for the day. This was based solely on poor timing. The reason that this was so damn frustrating was the fact that our group, who is quite competent and proficient, would prep very well but then lose all of our points in the last six minutes. This became quite annoying and it really made us rethink our timing. I believe, the real reason Chef Johnson stressed finishing on time was because of the practical exam.
For those of you who don’t know, the practical is a two part exam that tests students on one of six basic cooking competencies, as well as knowledge of 100 facts pulled from a 300 question bank. The questions range from fundies go gastronomy to nutrition. Each student is still given a grade out of 100, but the grading is done on a pass fail basis. I passed with lower numbers then I care to admit.
But back to Chef Johnson. The performance or cooking practical gives students 2.5 hours to cook and serve an entrée and soup that has been randomly selected. Chef mimicked this situation each day in class. Chef was the only person in school to take off 4 points for each minute late. Other chefs took 1 point just like you would get penalized on the actual practical. Chef forced us to work fast and quick.
Another thing that made Chef such a tough instructor was his methods. He was very hands off but he wanted us to know our material. He gave us no answers and expected us to do our research.
So how did I feel about Chef Johnson? I honestly hated each and every second of his class. Similarly, I blamed my poor daily grade and performance solely on him and I struggled to learn much. I found that his hands off approach was lazy and not helpful. Additionally, I frequently complained to others about how he ran class and how I thought he should teach class. But I never really appreciated the value of working with him. He worked me hard and gave no free handouts. He was a surprisingly tough chef with a unique teaching style.
In three words: tough, quiet, strict,