By Jonathon Freye
Chef Steve Deal, culinary and hospitality instructor at the Calhoun Area Career Center of Battle Creek, was recently recognized by the Michigan Restaurant Association for his outstanding dedication to education. The Association presented him the prestigious ProStart Educator Excellence award. Says deal, “I was extremely surprised to have been given such an honor as only a second year CTE teacher.” While Chef Deal is relatively new to the classroom, he is no stranger to instruction.
Asked what characteristics and qualities contributed to his consideration and ultimately receipt of the award, Deal said that the Michigan Restaurant Association’s board was impressed that he had gone from an exemplary mentor during his career in the culinary industry, to a teacher of Career and Technical education responsible for instructing the future professionals of culinary and hospitality.
The ProStart curriculum, according to Deal, is administered by the National Restaurant Association. The curriculum teaches students the foundations of restaurant management and culinary arts. Chef Deal was given the award during his class’s Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO), supported by the Michigan Restaurant Association. Deal, being familiar with the curriculum before becoming an instructor, related that the skills taught to students in the program are the exact skills they’ll need for future careers in industry. “I always used some of the foundational skills from the ProStart curriculum during my work,” he says.
Deal is also no stranger to Career and Technical education. Before landing on culinary arts, Deal received a scholarship from his high school TV/Radio broadcast CTE class in Lansing, Michigan. The scholarship paid for his first year of community college. During that time, however, he was also working in restaurants, and after his first year decided that his true passion lay in culinary arts. At age 20, he “got serious” about becoming a chef, but at that time culinary schools had not yet reached the level of popularity they enjoy today. He moved to Fairfax, Virginia where he apprenticed under a chef for nearly five years before moving to the Washington DC Country Club. Returning to Michigan, Deal served as the Executive Chef of the Battle Creek Country Club for 17 years.
Deal’s class is a popular one, and his passion for teaching immediately apparent during a visit to his classroom. As one of the CACC’s higher-enrollment programs, students have an unparalleled opportunity to not only learn from an experienced professional, but to apply their academics in state of the art, industrial kitchen housed within the CACC. Deal said that his goal is to “prepare the students for the next level, whether it is secondary education in the culinary arts, or if they are going directly to the workforce.” Deal said he teaches from experience, and incorporates as many personal experiences into his instruction as possible, to relate to students why the material they’re learning is important. He aims to give each student as many “tastes” of the culinary and hospitality industry as possible, in an effort to broaden their career interests. Deal says “its all about preparing them for what’s next.”