UT Culinary & Catering graduate Tara Garland recently shared her experience with our 12-week culinary certification program.
1. What was the most challenging part of the UT Culinary & Catering Program? How did you get through it?
Balancing the UT Culinary & Catering Program while continuing my studies as a full-time student meant long days and long hours, which was demanding both physically and mentally because I had to be in-the-moment all of the time.
What really got me through was my great team and the constant reminder that we were all in this together. The small class size that the program offers allowed us to bond, and by the time we graduated, we were like family.
2. What advice do you have for students who are about to enter the UT Culinary & Catering Program?
Go to the information session to know what you’re getting yourself into! If you can’t make the time commitment now, start planning ahead so you can. The program is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. That being said, when you go to class, actually be there. Be alert and be engaged. What you put into the program is exactly what you’re going to get out of it, so don’t shortchange yourself by taking the easy road.
3. What advice do you have for students who are about to graduate the UT Culinary & Catering Program and enter the workforce?
The best part of the program is what’s most unique about it, which is training in different classroom settings and serving a wide range of events. Whether it’s buffet, à la carte, or a plated dinner, find what culinary style brings you the most joy. Your passion may not necessarily make you the most money, but you can’t buy happiness either.
4. What would you tell someone who is considering becoming certified by the American Culinary Federation?
Do it! Go the extra mile and do it. You won’t regret it. Getting my ACF certification was one of the most incredible things I’ve done to this date.
I 100% believe my ACF certification has helped me get into the door at the Nashville Omni Hotel. The networking within the ACF is amazing and my certification provides me with the extra validation I needed to be taken seriously right out of school, especially being young and a female.
5. Do you have your dream job? If not, what is it?
I love working in a hotel. My long-term career goal would be becoming the food and beverage director for a hotel, opening up my own restaurant, and having the ability to travel and being a part of something much bigger than myself. I love people and I love watching all of the moving parts come together.
6. How have you grown since graduating from the UT Culinary & Catering Program?
I’ve learned a lot about guest interaction and hospitality in general. There are certain things you can only learn by doing, like managing a large group of employees. Nashville is very diverse, everyone comes from a different walk of life. It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the UT Culinary & Catering Program.
We hope our conversation with Tara has encouraged you. If you’re ready for a change of pace and have a passion for food, register for a free information session to meet Chef Greg Eisele and learn more about our 12-week program.