Johnson & Wales University

One of our favorite chefs graduated from JWU, and he even gave their commencement address last June: Champe Spiedel, nominated five times for a James Beard Award. Our students have had the pleasure of dining at his restaurant, Persimmon, and he is a prime example of JWU’s excellence. He is one of many well-trained, talented, and busy chefs from this prestigious culinary school, and he is proof of the quality program the university offers. The Culinary Arts Club students took a tour of the school’s Harborside Campus in Providence, and they definitely got a taste of what “culinary” means.   

 

This month, I had the fortunate opportunity of visiting an amazing program within a short car ride.

A four-story tall building, standing erect with elegant grey bricks and shiny window glass reflecting the sky, this is the heart of all — the CCCE (Cuisinart Center For Culinary Excellence), where palates dance and magic happens. 

 Following the lead of a current student, we walk through the door and explore the first floor with curiosity. First room that enters my sight — behold, alcohol bottles of different heights flashing with colors, bright blue, warm orange, blood red. The mixology lab. Men and women (students) in chef attire roam behind bar counters, and mix potions. A treat to the sight. The tour guide told us that first year students have the opportunity to learn bartending techniques. Their final exam? Making twenty different kind of drinks in twenty minutes in a dark room blasted with disco music. Now, that, is cool.

“Tiered and themed decorated cakes, sugar artistry, sensory analysis in contemporary desserts…” The tour guide continues as my mind drifts away, imagining myself in the chef hat frosting a cake. 

A familiar smell of umami occupies my olfactory sense, and sure enough, the tour guide announces “Now we are in the international cuisine section.” The sushi-making girl cuts the long roll into even pieces, the nervous guy in glasses from another table dabs flour onto scattered angel hair pasta.

Every student seems entirely focused on the dish in front of them, like many Julia Childs, cooking like artists. As I watch them through the glass, I see chef dreams unfold.–Amber Liao ’17

On the picturesque Providence waterfront, nestled between Narragansett Bay and downtown Providence, a school dedicated to all Culinary Arts stands, ready as ever to continue the prehistoric art of cooking. The campus of Johnson and Wales University presents itself as modern and complete, with no expense spared to prepare the next generation of culinary artists.

We were greeted at the administration building, and taken in to watch a standard admissions video and meet our tour-guides. I was a little surprised by this, as I wasn’t aware this trip was a tour. I was under the impression that we were sampling a class at the university, but the tour never crossed my mind. The tour guide took us to a classroom building, where they also housed a Starbucks and a school-run cafeteria. The classrooms had smartboards and engaged students. The building’s computer lab was accessible to students, and completely functional.

Next, our group passed by the Quad, and took a picture with a statue of the mascot, a 15- foot-tall tiger on our way to the gymnasium. Johnson and Whales boasts a full-court basketball court, swimming pool, and fully equipped workout gym. All these facilities are available to students at no additional cost, an attractive perk.

The crown jewel of the campus is a four-story building housing many fully operational and specialized kitchens, bars, bakeries, and even a fine dining restaurant. In our school, doing a lab might involve reacting chemicals or culturing a bacteria colony for Dr. Zins, but at Johnson and Whales, their labs are mixing drinks, baking art into bread, creating sushi, and serving a full three-course meal at an in-house restaurant. The smells wafting from the laboratories entrance entrants as soon as they walk through the doors. Grilling steaks, cakes, and smells indescribably amazing conquer your senses.

Johnson and Wales University makes possible the transition of knowledge from master to student by gathering the most accomplished teachers and the most eager students. The institution prepares the new wave of restaurateurs, chefs, bakers, servers, and artists to innovate and sustain the ever-present foodie culture for generations to come. — Arthur Shipman ’18

The trip to Johnson and Wales Culinary School was an incredible experience. I have never been to a culinary art school before, much less that of the world-renowned Johnson and Wales. The main building, a four-story multimillion-dollar, energy-efficient, glass structure was filled with various labs for every aspect of the culinary field. There were labs for desserts, meats, Italian and French food, wine and cocktail classrooms, a distillery, a pantry with well over 150 foods, and even a dining room for training students on every aspect of the food business. Everything in each lab was carefully designed, stainless steel tables in rooms intended for preparing meat and butcher block in rooms for preparing dessert. While the culinary field is not one I intend to pursue professionally, I can certainly appreciate the passion and opportunities that the students at JWU culinary school have. And I will definitely be making friends with culinary students at my college next fall.–Matias Wawro ’17

Before going to see Johnson and Wales University, I didn’t know anything about culinary schools, nor did I have any picture in my mind of the type of college experience it would be like. Getting to go on a tour was an amazing experience, and I was struck by how similar and different Johnson and Wales was to the colleges I was used to seeing. On one hand, it had dorms, and dining halls, and academic classes like any other school. Our tour guide even mentioned how common it was for students to major in subjects such as business management. However, there was a whole other dimension to Johnson and Wales. We saw everything from a sommelier class, to a class on preserving food with methods other than refrigeration. One of the most interesting classes that we looked into was one where the students went to different stations and at each station prepared a food from a different country. The trip ultimately gave me a great appreciation for the school and the work of the students who attend it.–Johanna Appleton ’17

A rather new experience for the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts Program this time was traveling to the prestigious culinary school, Johnson and Wales University. After stepping off from the bus, we received a warm welcome from one of our tour guides, named Thomas Quinn. Shortly after stepping inside, we were directed toward a large, open classroom-like space. There, we watched a brief film educating us about the school and its exciting programs, and we listened to an experienced and educated admission agent, with a rather untimely cold, tell us more about the renowned JWU.

After this informational meeting, we walked to the main area of campus and observed where upperclassmen students are housed, a private bus system, and some smaller buildings. On the edge of campus, there stands the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence, a towering five story glass-filled building where all culinary aspects are performed and presented within the campus. Inside, the smell of perfection filled my nose almost instantaneously. I was unsure at first if I had stepped into Grandma’s kitchen or a Yankee Candle Store. Each story or level is accredited to a different form of cooking, baking, food preparation, food management, and my favorite, “sommelier,” the delicate and sometimes tricky process of wine smelling and tasting. With each floor we ascended, the overwhelming power of the delicious foods and pastries being made was almost unbearable. I continuously thought to myself “I have to eat!” and “Where’s our food?”—and I know I was not alone in these thoughts. At each floor, through wide windows, we witnessed a variety of classes being taught to underclassmen and upperclassmen alike. Student classes are six hours a day, once a day, for nine days. It was amazing to see the culinary talent and skills young minds were able to perform in such a crowded space and with the pressure of hungry strangers peering in and inquiring about their every movement.

Our group ended the day with a savory meal in one of the campus’s many dining facilities. We could choose between two slices of handmade pizza, a tasty looking sandwich, or a wide variety of salads. Somehow, I ended up picking the less favorable but certainly tasteful salad option. Directly adjacent to the restaurant was a much needed Starbucks for our return to mid-day classes.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the chance to see a prestigious and modernized college with the Culinary Club. I will be back again, Johnson and Wales, but this time with more money for the pizza option.–Michael Griffin ’18

On December 1st, the Culinary Arts Club visited Johnson and Wales University at their Harborside campus. We began with an introduction of the school and continued with a tour of the four-story Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Throughout the tour of the building, there were classrooms filled with state of the art equipment for all cooking and baking needs. Each classroom was filled with students very dedicated to their Culinary Arts classes.  Many of the classrooms were filled with seven hours’ long labs, and the students’ dedication to these classes demonstrate the strength of the culinary program at Johnson and Wales.

In the 21st century, it is very important to maintain schools such as Johnson and Wales. This university offers many careers and internships for students interested in all types of majors, especially in Culinary. Food is a necessity and the culinary school has turned it into a passionate art. With all different branches of food including restaurants, food production and cooking/baking competitions there needs to be a starting point to make delicious food. Johnson and Wales reflects the highest standard in culinary education.–Ana Dwyer ’17

One lovely Thursday morning, the Culinary Arts Club gathered inside a rickety red Raven Bus and bumped along to Johnson & Wales University. Mrs. Bonin had been talking about this field trip for quite some time so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one squirming with anticipation.

Upon arrival, a young man dressed in a white uniform herded us into a presentation room that unsurprisingly reminded me of all my college visits over the summer. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you to decide. Soon enough, a cheery lady named Virginia, who ended up giving us the rundown of the university, joined us. I’m not going to lie, having already seen upwards of twelve college info sessions, I may have been able to recite the spiel word for word. That being said, JW was truly a joy to visit.

Next came the tour portion of our visit. We were divided into two groups, and my group scuttled behind an incredibly bubbly young woman with short red curls. I’m currently drawing a blank on her name, but I can assure you, she made the entire trip more than worthwhile for me. She told us all about how she herself had graduated just a few years prior, majoring in Baked Goods and Pastries. Talk about jealous. In all honesty, we lucked out, for the day was brisk but still bright and sunny—a perfect day for pictures. So we did just that (Mrs. Bonin made sure to snap a few group shots before we went on our way). The young lady led us through the main lab center, comprised of four floors. In case you were wondering, these labs include a LOT of food. If only, if only…

I swear, the moment we walked through those doors, our nostrils were blessed with the most heavenly smells I have ever come across. A mixture of garlic bread, basil and fresh marinara sauce wafted through the air. The students were definitely cooking up a storm. As our tour guide led us through the different levels, we shifted olfactory modes. I kid you not, one moment we’d smell the rich saucy steaks bathed in spices and the next, we’d be gliding across the halls, high on the divine smell of chocolate. I have never in my entire life been so pleased and thankful for my nose.–Maya Wilson ’17

As a senior who was extremely stressed about college applications, visiting JWU was a somewhat nerve-wracking but exciting experience to me. Interested in a hospitality major, I was always curious about how other factors such as fashion, food, or business will influence the hospitality and tourist fields. As I stepped into the classroom building, there was nothing different from the normal classrooms we had in high school. However, when I entered the building of culinary arts with transparent glass classrooms, the atmosphere and students in the building amazed me. There were several classes such as chocolate, wine tasting, and international food classes. The most attractive classes were the wine tasting and international food class. In the wine tasting classroom, the floor was made up with corks. Various alcoholic beverages with beautiful colors were displayed on the first floor, which attracted all the students because we were all under aged for drinking alcoholic beverages. When we stopped in front the international food class, there were different kinds of foods from so many countries. I was excited to enjoy the moments of sharing cultures and foods together. The tour at JWU reminded me of the goal of going to the college. I had this mindset that “Going to the college in Rhode Island will not make my life any better. I’m moving out to the city for better life.” But the students in the JWU changed my mind, and I could see their true enjoyment while cooking. This experience changed my perspective and provided me the significant value that is important to me.–Jennifer Park ’17

Before going to see Johnson and Wales University, I didn’t know anything about culinary schools, nor did I have any picture in my mind of the type of college experience it would be like. Getting to go on a tour was an amazing experience, and I was struck by how similar and different Johnson and Wales was to the colleges I was used to seeing. On one hand, it had dorms, and dining halls, and academic classes like any other school. Our tour guide even mentioned how common it was for students to major in subjects such as business management. However, there was a whole other dimension to Johnson and Wales. We saw everything from a sommelier class, to a class on preserving food with methods other than refrigeration. One of the most interesting classes that we looked into was one where the students went to different stations and at each station prepared a food from a different country. The trip ultimately gave me a great appreciation for the school and the work of the students who attend it.

The Culinary Art Club’s trip to Johnson & Wales University allowed us to see part of a regular day at one of the nation’s best culinary programs. We started out our tour by talking to an admissions counselor who gave us an overview of the program and how the admissions process works at Johnson & Wales. We then toured the beautiful Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence led by a current student of the culinary program. The CCCE is a huge building with tons of natural light and every imaginable facility and ingredient relating to Culinary Arts. Most of the classrooms had large windows to the hallway, so we were able to observe students learning different techniques from talented chefs. My favorite floor had the bakeshop and chocolate/pastry labs where we saw gorgeous and incredibly detailed chocolate sculptures that one class had done as a project. It was really interesting to see how students could be given the same instructions, ingredients, and model and all create unique results with personal details and touches. This floor also smelled incredible from all the pastries and breads that were cooking as we walked through. Johnson & Wales also had an entire functioning restaurant/classroom where students learn how to do everything in a restaurant from setting tables to planning menus for customers who come in a few times per month. It was a valuable experience to see one route to get into the culinary arts world and visiting the school definitely made it easier to visualize what it would be like to pursue a career in Culinary Arts.–Hannah Banderob ’18

As a high school senior who has just finished the stressful application season, I cannot recall any college visit, other than this one with Johnson & Wales University that made me completely happy.

During the tour of JWU’s facilities, I got the impression that it is the great powerhouse that contributes to Rhode Island’s “Small state, big taste” assertion. I was particularly fascinated by the Wine and Beverage Education part of the curriculum because my uncle is a wine taster and got me interested in the area (a little too early). We passed by a classroom when a professor was explaining the relationship between viticulture and vinification; we also watched students practice how to make cocktails in a classroom full of different kinds of wines and spirits.

The culinary side of the curriculum is equally exciting. I still cannot believe that students of JWU made such amazing artworks with only bread and chocolate. The Santa Claus on the bread and the chocolate snowman looked so vivid. Our tour guide also told me that JWU offers a recreational cooking class, “Chef’s Choice,” which welcomes any cooking amateur who’s not enrolled in the university. It combines hands-on experience and demonstrations by professional teaching chefs, a course not to be missed by anyone who lives in nearby area. Although I cannot take these classes since I’m graduating soon, I will certainly be looking for similar opportunities when I go to college. –Christine Gu ’18

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