Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Students Arrive from Around the World to Study Culinary Arts at CKCA

It used to be impossible for kosher-keeping students to learn how to make croissants and delicate French pastries from real French pastry chefs. But at CKCA, the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, students are learning from true masters every day, and as more and more people have heard about the program offerings, CKCA has begun welcoming students from literally all over the world.

Lured by the rigorous course programs, classic French culinary training and top-notch kashrus instruction designed to assist the kosher chef in professional environments, CKCA has this fall, winter and spring welcomed three students from Panama City, three students from Toronto and one from Melbourne, Australia. Other recent semesters have seen students joining CKCA courses from as far away as England, Israel and Mexico, as well as students from Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and California, as well as from every community all over the tri-state area.

To help guide the pastry component of CKCA's Professional Certificate Program in Baking & Pastry, Chef Philippe Kaemmerle has joined the already distinguished CKCA faculty this semester as a lead chef instructor. Trained in Strasbourg, France, Kaemmerle has made classic French pastry all over the world, from Paris, Stockholm and St. Tropez, to Manhattan, in restaurants such as Windows on the World, the 21 Club and Aquavit. He has also been an instructor for the past 14 years at The Art Institute of New York, and has also taught at the French Culinary Institute and New York Technical College.

Chef Kaemmerle is intrigued by the burgeoning world of kosher food, and feels that there is a great opportunity for the kosher world to embrace classic French pastry. "There is not such a big concentration right now in kosher pastries, but this is going to get better and better as the education of the students improve," he said.

"It is a learning process and a wonderful challenge to work on the recipe substitutions necessary for kosher baking, but generally it is not very much and substitutions: margarine, rice milk, whipped topping... these all work well," said Chef Kaemmerle.

Based in Flatbush, Brooklyn, above a cookware store owned by Lubavitcher Jews, CKCA initially offered only recreational cooking, cake decorating and garnishing classes. However, many people who attended the classes requested professional training, so they could learn classic techniques and apply them in professional kosher environments. Until CKCA was established, the only way a kosher-keeping student could study the culinary arts in the United States was to attend a non-kosher program and rely on classmates to taste the food. CKCA is also one of the only ways a non-Jewish student learns the art of kosher cooking, in order to compete for an increasing number of jobs in kosher restaurants and catering.

Several experienced master chefs are on CKCA's permanent faculty as chef instructors, including Chef Avram Wiseman, formerly Executive Sous Chef at the United Nations and Chef Instructor at the Art Institute of New York, Chef Mark Hellermann, a veteran New York pastry chef and Chef Instructor at the New York Restaurant School, and Chef David Ritter, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, restaurant owner and Chef Instructor at the Art Institute of New York.

Over the past two years, approximately 125 individuals from numerous states and abroad have completed CKCA professional courses. Those who have desired internships have been placed, and many have found work through CKCA as well. Several grads have opened their own food-related businesses, and many have found commercial success working as personal chefs and caterers.

In the Professional Culinary Arts program, curriculum includes kashrut, food safety and sanitation lectures as well as preparation for NYC Dept of Health and ServSafe certifications. Class size in both Pro Culinary and Pro Baking and Pastry is limited to allow maximum individual attention.

Classes in kashrut are taught by Rabbi Zushe Blech, a world renowned authority on the intersection between halacha (Jewish law) and kosher food. Blech is the author of the landmark book, "Kosher Food Production."

For more information, visit http://www.KosherCulinaryArts.com, or call Jesse Blonder, CKCA Director, at 718.758.1339. There is also a website for the Pro-Baking program, visible at http://www.kosherbakingandpastry.com, and a website for the Culinary Arts program, visible at http://www.kosherculinaryarts.blogspot.com.

CKCA is located at 1407 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11230.

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