Online class to help cooks

Summer is cooking. Literally.

Iowa Central Community College is partnering with Escoffier Online Culinary Academy to offer noncredit, online courses.

“They do it all online, but with video you can see what the actual chef is doing,” Sue Heistand, Iowa Central noncredit program coordinator, said. “It’s more for the person who can’t come to college, but can do this at home.”

The online courses don’t earn the student college credits, Heistand said.

“You just take these classes and learn how to cook, and get a certificate from Escoffier at the end,” she said.

Escoffier offers three courses online: Culinary Fundamentals at $3,995; Introduction to Knife Skills, $269; and Pastry Arts at $3,955. Students participating through Iowa Central receive a 15 percent discount on tuition.

The partnership expands Iowa Central’s culinary offerings to the students it serves in nine counties, Heistand said.

“Our current culinary program is pretty well attended. We have almost 100 people in that class,” she said. “We thought it was another way of getting these classes out into the area with a little different twist to them. And it is a very well-renowned company. They have several colleges that are taking advantage of these programs, offering them for noncredit.”

The program, Heistand said, will allow students to learn basic culinary skills from home and on their own time.

“(Our chef, Michael Hirst) doesn’t have the time to make the videos or show people how to do basic cutting skills, classic cooking principals, other than in the classroom,” she said. “He doesn’t have time to go out and do these types of classes for the general public.”

The extra offering could nonetheless lead to rewarding opportunities, Heistand said.

“It’s something we’re hoping someone will take advantage of, maybe even get a job from it,” she said. “They do try to place the people who go through the program. They do have to do assessments. They’ve got their own assessments they give them.”

According to Heistand, people interested in participating in the program will “really like it.”

“It doesn’t just teach you how to cook, it teaches you your equipment identification, what types of knife sets to get, different spices, all different types of things you can learn, to your cuts of beef,” she said. “They have an actual chef demonstrating to them, and then they get a practice demonstration they can start and stop anytime they want.”

For more information, contact Sue Heistand at 574-1292 or by email at