Student Chef Shares Her First Four Weeks at the UT Culinary & Catering Program

Kate Johnson joined our culinary and catering program this summer after working for years as a teacher, ready to pursue a different passion: cooking great food.

She documented her experience during each of the first four weeks with a video clip and a complementary journal entry.

Week One

“The support and knowledge from everyone at the UT Culinary & Catering Program was evident as soon as I stepped off the elevator and was greeted by the administrative staff. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to learn hands-on from chefs with various culinary experiences and teaching styles. Program Director, Chef Greg Eisele, introduced his new students to the kitchen, equipment, and encouraged us to create our own versions of stuffed chicken with hollandaise after his demonstration. Each day I cooked a different cuisine, which allowed me to explore flavors, preparation, and cooking methods, individually, and as a team with my co-students. Everything I created in the kitchen reinforced what I was taught in lecture, creating a cohesive learning experience.”

 Week Two

“Even though the UT Culinary & Catering Program is only three months, they don’t skim over what many would consider “cooking basics”. The instructors teach the value of stocks, cooking methods, and even how to cook eggs. Throughout the week, I’ve learned knife skills, the business behind catering, along with new cooking techniques I’ve never tried before. What sticks out to me the most is the tangible passion each instructor has while teaching. I have the opportunity to learn from instructors who have worked in culinary most of their lives, while some are still fairly new in this line of work. No matter the years of experience, the level of excitement, respect, and integrity for what they do is the same. It’s an incredible experience to participate in and witness.”

Week Three

“One of the components I find most helpful in the UT Culinary & Catering Program is the integration of the lessons. We have online classwork and traditional lecture, as well as meaningful time in the kitchen. Even though I graduated college five years ago, I’m reminded of my time spent in lab and lecture. This approach speaks volumes to the thought and design for each student to learn the most they can in three months. During my third week, I’ve enjoyed learning classic techniques and how these foods build upon themselves to make new dishes, along with the behind the scenes aspect of culinary through an in depth discussion over cost control.”

Week Four 

“Week four in the UT Culinary & Catering Program included our very first presentation as a class. We pretended we were actual owners of a catering business and made a presentation to clients. It was a fun experience and encouraging to our team. We also focused on healthy eating, vegetarian, vegetables, and fruits and how to adapt to different dietary needs that we might come across as we go into the culinary world. It’s good to know that the UT Culinary & Catering Program teaches its students how to adapt and how to help people in the community with their (unique) dietary needs.”

Follow the rest of Kate’s journey on our Facebook page.

The UT Culinary & Catering Program is a 12-week intensive culinary certification and food business training program in Knoxville, TN designed to turn decent cooks into phenomenal chefs and successful food business owners. To learn more about our program, register for a free information session online or contact Pam Quick at or 865-974-3181.