JACKSON, WY— Career changes are intimidating no matter the industry.
They require building a new skillset. They often demand time not everyone has — time to study, learn, apply, train, often without pay.
Central Wyoming College’s culinary program in Jackson was specifically designed with those barriers in mind, said program director Amy Madera.
“A lot of students come into the school a little green—they know they want a career in culinary, but they’re intimidated by just going into a kitchen,” Madera said.
CWC’s program provides hands-on classroom training for budding culinary artists of all experience levels. Classes include stocks and soup, baking, dining room management, culinary nutrition, and more.
“All of our instructors are phenomenal; they have the passion and want others to learn about the industry,” Madera said.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the program also provides real-world experience. Through partnerships with local resorts and restaurants, CWC’s curriculum allows students to work and earn money in the field as part of the program. It’s a win-win: local businesses have essential staff during busy tourist seasons, and CWC students get a taste of the culinary “real world.”
“[Local] employers have an awesome relationship with the college,” Madera said. Indeed, kitchens across the valley are eager to employ CWC culinary students and give them the training and experience they need. You can find CWC students and alumni at the Rusty Parrot, the Amangani, Howl Bowl, Fine Dining… practically any kitchen in the valley has CWC’s culinary program to think for their staff.
It’s an obvious advantage to be able to work and make money in the field for which you are training. The paid internship element of the program is testament that “it can be affordable to live in Jackson and go to college,” Madera said.
Plus, the program is structured so that classes take place during the off seasons. So students can study when work is slow, and work hard then they’re needed most. The curriculum is fluid, so students can complete the program in 15 months if they enroll full-time, but they can also go at their own pace depending on their availability. Curious but less committed students can even audit classes if there’s room.
“It’s an all-access program,” Madera said. “We accept students of all levels.”
CWC offers scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition if necessary. The cost of the program is $11 thousand, which covers tuition for the two-year degree, plus anything a budding chef could need: knives, supplies, uniforms. CWC has also given students suits to wear to job interviews. At any step in the educational journey, CWC is eager to help students succeed.
Madera encourages anyone interested in a culinary career to meet with her. She is happy to give prospective students as much immersion as they need–they can shadow a class, take a tour, participate in catering events.
“I always invite potential students to partake,” Madera said. “It gives them a better idea of what a day in the life is at CWC.”
Visit CWC’s website to learn more about the culinary program and how to take your career to the next leve.
Local restaurants can help bring CWC’s culinary mission to the next level. Jeff Drew from Snake River Grill and Ted Staryk from Snake River Brewing have initiated a restaurant challenge to support CWC’s new Jackson campus, so that culinary students could move out of the Elk’s Lodge and into a real student kitchen.
“The school can’t exist without our partners,” Madera said. “I’m happy to meet with anyone interested, we have nine donors so far which we’re really excited about, and it’s growing.”
Interested donors can contact Madera or Susan Durfee, CWC Jackson’s outreach director.
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Central Wyoming College
Central Wyoming College is a two-year college serving Fremont, Hot Springs and Teton Counties Our main campus is located in Riverton Wyoming and we have outreach centers in Lander, Jackson and Dubois, each designed