He is one of only 72 Certified Master Chefs in the world
Today for “Faculty Spotlight” we’re sitting down with Brian Beland, a Certified Master Chef and our new Culinary Arts Department Chair. He also serves as the Executive Chef at Country Club of Detroit, which has earned distinction as a Platinum Club of America.
Schoolcraft College: Hello, Chef Beland, and congratulations on your new role! To start out, could you please tell us about your position at Schoolcraft College, how long you have been with us and what classes you teach?
Brian Beland: Thank you and I appreciate the opportunity to be featured and represent the Culinary Team at Schoolcraft College. I was fortunate to join the Schoolcraft Culinary Team in January 2014. To be honest, I’m still learning on the job the many facets and roles of our department. Some of the highlight responsibilities include continuing the longtime tradition of culinary excellence and pursuit of a hospitality-first culture. I want to be a resource for the students and team members who make the Schoolcraft Culinary experience special and unique. And I want to be both a visionary and facilitator for short- and long-term curriculum and facilities planning for the department.
SC: Please tell us a little about how one becomes a Certified Master Chef. What does attaining that achievement entail?
Brian Beland: For me, the Certified Master Chef process represents a commitment to lifelong learning and self-development. The process itself starts with a dedication to the personal development and refinement of cooking techniques, cuisine philosophy, time management and the desire for continuous improvement. The mindset carries through not only in the kitchen but in all aspects of personal and professional life. The exam itself is an eight-day practical cooking exam supported by levels of professional experience and education. The cooking practicals include: Nutritional, Cold Food Garde Manger, Classical Cuisine, Global Cuisines, Freestyle, Baking and Pastry, Continental European Cuisine and a Market Basket Final.
SC: What prompted your interest in the culinary arts? Did you always want to be a chef?
Brian Beland: In high school I became introduced to the kitchen. Initially, it was not the career path I through I would choose, but after some positive experiences and learning about myself along the way, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. I chose Michigan State’s Hospitality Business program as an opportunity to continue working in kitchens and also obtain some business background education. I chose all my externships in the kitchen, with my Level 2 experience at Country Club of Detroit. It was in that kitchen I found myself committing myself to the craft and profession. I enjoyed the hustle, the stress, the continual push to get better. It replaced team sports that I had been accustomed to participating in.
SC: Culinary Arts is perhaps the best known program at Schoolcraft College. What is your vision and what are your goals for the department as we move forward?
Brian Beland: Our team’s vision is a pursuit of continuous excellence and preparing the students to be ready to take positions in industry. An initial goal for our team this year is to reboot our program, enrollment and restaurant services as we come out of a difficult one-month stretch that drastically disrupted the hospitality industry. At the same time, we have been working diligently this year on our curriculum. The culinary industry and the educational model has been through so much change the last 10 to 15 years. We recognize that we need to maintain our standard of excellences, but also need to review what we are focusing on and how we are providing that to the students.
SC: What do you like best about teaching at Schoolcraft College?
Brian Beland: Schoolcraft is an amazing place to be associated with. Our kitchen labs are built for individual student learning, allowing us as instructors to provide the opportunity for each student to cook and develop individual skills. As we move into the second year part of the program, students can take the fundamental development learned in year one and apply those skills to full-service restaurant operations and work as a team. It’s a privilege to be a part of a team and institution where the College, administration, Board of Trustees and community all believe in our vision and support our various offerings.
SC: Thank you, Chef Beland. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Brian Beland: Thank you! We look forward to seeing everyone back in the fall!