Tampa Culinary Arts Programs
Are you ready for a Career in Culinary Arts?
In the Culinary Arts Programs at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, you will have the opportunity to obtain foundational knowledge and skills in the fundamental techniques and theories of the culinary arts and in industry practices. Your culinary arts courses will introduce you to culinary concepts, theories, the principles of sanitation and safety, as well as different regional cuisines.Mariela H. Genco, Culinary Arts, Chef Instructor, The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design
Working in a modern, professional kitchen, you can hone your cooking skills as you focus on learning to deliver the popular international flavors and techniques today’s consumers—and employers—want and expect. The Tutored Chef is a classroom disguised as a restaurant and will be your first real world restaurant experience in the Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts degree program.Culinary Arts, 2016 (AA) Alumnus Kirsten "KJ" Mathers | The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design
“ The classroom curriculum enabled a more broad vision of what it is like to be a chef. Without the full scope of the curriculum [at The Art Institute of Tampa], I would not be able to approach this job in the way that I am now.”
Meet our Alumni
AJ MangasCulinary Arts , 2013Read More
Line and Banquet Cook at Carlouel Yacht ClubAJ Mangas is working as a line and banquet cook at Carlouel Yacht Club in Clearwater, Florida. He is responsible for preparing stations and banquets, as well as creating dishes. AJ says that his days are very fast paced. “We have a small staff in the kitchen, so it requires a lot of concentration and technique to ensure the food is prepared correctly and to the [Head] Chef’s standards,” he says.
AJ is proud to have made a career change in his 30s, moving from a position as an auto technician to his current culinary career. “I love creating new dishes, or putting my own twist on classic dishes, using fresh ingredients.” AJ adds that the most satisfying part of being a chef is hearing that customers enjoy his creations. “The absolute best is when a server comes into the kitchen and tells me that the customer loved their dish. That makes all the stress and pressure worth it.”
AJ, who in 2013 earned a Diploma in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Tampa, says that his education helped to prepare him for a culinary career. “Everything from the classes to the kitchen labs were amazing. The instructors not only taught me basic skills, [but] what to expect in the field by teaching from their own experiences*. I use the techniques that I learned [in school] every single day.”
*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.Read More...
Joshua ZeffGraphic & Web Design , 2014Read More
Graphic Designer for J&R Bicycles
Joshua Zeff is working as the graphic designer for J&R Bicycles in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is responsible for marketing, print, and web applications for the company. Joshua says that he enjoys the calm and chaotic combination that each day brings. “One day you’re doing nothing but the normal routine and then next day, eight products come in, two sales need promotional material done, and your boss is requesting design briefs. But that’s why I love what I do.”
Joshua is inspired by intricate signage, theme park environments, bright and bold fonts, extreme textures, and unique packaging. “I’m drawn to interesting structures and art; anything that is unique or different fascinates me,” he says.
Joshua, who in 2014 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Tampa, says that his education gave him a realistic sense of how the industry works. “Everything from the assignments to the deadlines and the critique sessions mentally prepared me to communicate my creations and gave me a sense of what it would really be like to work in the real world.” Joshua adds that current students should be humble as they transition into their careers. “No matter how good you are or how good you think you are, you are just starting.”Read More...
Jenna MackGraphic & Web Design , 2013Read More
Senior Graphic Designer for Triad Retail Media
Jenna Mack is a senior graphic designer for Triad Retail Media, a marketing and content services company in St. Petersburg, Florida. She works with the sales, content, and marketing teams to concept strategies for leading brands, and aims to drive sales and enhance consumer experiences through digital retail platforms. Jenna says that her typical workday begins with coffee and emails. She looks at what’s on her plate for the day and creates a project task list. She then attends kickoff meetings for new projects—brainstorming and sketching ideas. “We get anywhere from a couple of hours to a week to turn a project around, and that determines how much of the creative process we get to follow.”
She admits that her career is demanding and recommends that when pressure sets in, it’s important to remember the end goal. “Remind yourself of how far you've come and know that soon enough you're going to look back on this moment and realize how much further you've gotten. You will surprise yourself in what you accomplish and it makes the struggles worth it.” She adds that simply meeting job requirements is not enough, and takes pride in surrounding herself with information that helps her to grow professionally. This has allowed her to feel more confident in business meetings. “If you know what you're talking about it shows, and people start depending on you and looking at you as a go-to person for certain things. That's a great feeling.”
Jenna cites a time when she felt stuck on a project—and says that while it is difficult, everyone goes through it. “I realized that if other people could get past it, then I could too. I also changed how I looked at my current situation. Changing your perspective can make everything feel a lot better.” For a mental break, she takes the time to play a game, work on a puzzle, or share ideas with coworkers. “We also surround our work area with inspiring quotes and good design.”
Her determination is rewarded when she receives compliments on her work. “Seeing your work live, or people interacting with it, is pretty rewarding.” She did face a challenge after her manager left—she was given the opportunity to either step up and take the open position or to continue working under a new manager. “It was a little scary and a lot all at once, but I felt I deserved the chance to step up and I wanted to take the challenge. So far, it's gone more smoothly than I thought, and pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. I've accomplished things I wouldn't have believed were possible for me a year ago.”
Jenna, who in 2013 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Tampa, says that her instructors’ drive and passion in design was inspiring. She adds that the school’s strict attendance policy prepared her for a real world work environment—she was early to every class, stayed late, and only missed class if she absolutely had too. “I became more responsible. I definitely didn't feel like the typical college student.”Read More...
Kirsten "KJ" MathersCulinary Arts , 2016
"The classroom curriculum enabled a more broad vision of what it is like to be a chef. Without the full scope of the curriculum [at The Art Institute of Tampa], I would not be able to approach this job in the way that I am now."Read More
Kirsten "KJ" MathersHead Chef at Resort on Island of St. Kitts, Oversees Kitchen and Menu Creation
Kirsten Mathers’ first immersion into international cuisine took place when she traveled to Italy, while still a student, as a finalist in the Urbani Tartufi Truffle Competition. Today, she’s working as the head chef of a resort on the island of St. Kitts, in charge of a restaurant that recently re-opened. Kirsten oversees the menu, puts ServSafe procedures in place, standardizes menus, and manages inventory. “It was an unexpected opportunity, but one that I know will be pivotal in my professional career,” she says.
While still a student, Kirsten earned the opportunity to cook New Year’s Eve dinner at the prestigious James Beard House and was selected for a two week trip to Italy to participate in the Urbani Tartufi Truffle Competition. Upon completion of her degree, two of her Chef instructors helped to connect her with an internship at an Italian resort—and finally her job in St. Kitts.
Her work day includes morning prep, then a quick break before she returns in the afternoon to get ready for dinner service. As the restaurants ramps up its staff, Kirsten hopes to turn over the prep work to new hires and devote more time to planning and record keeping—but will continue to work inside the kitchens for the dinner hours.
Kirsten says that she’s currently facing a big challenge. “The executive chef of the resort where my restaurant is located resigned unexpectedly four days after I got here. I was left in charge of a restaurant that had re-opened just five days before his resignation.” She adds that her education immediately assisted her with stepping up to the challenge. “The well-rounded education that I got at The Art Institute of Tampa, as well as the support of my chef instructors and family/friends [allowed me] to face this challenge with confidence and excitement.”
On St. Kitts, there’s an existing framework to Island favorites—but growing tourism allows Kirsten to experiment and stretch the minds of her culinary staff. “It's always a conversation, but it's been fun to see the way that all of us are willing to try new things, or combine both the local heart and the tourists’ tastes.”
While she tries to make room for downtime, she says that a chef's mind never stops. “Food never ends, so cooking never ends. Requisitions never end so tracking products never ends. Restaurants cannot remain stagnant, so you must learn the taste of people around you to know what sorts of things you can create to put on the menu.” Kirsten spends time learning how to create foods and says that she’s always present and aware—watching everything going on in the kitchen. “On the flip side, to be a healthy chef, you must make sure to commit to stopping your chef brain and taking time to do what you need to do for yourself to keep you going as a chef.”
Kirsten, who in 2016 earned an Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Tampa, says that she started her culinary education five years after earning a bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry. “I knew I needed to do something more.
Up until then I had worked in a coffee shop, served in a restaurant, and did a quick stint as a bank teller, but never really considered culinary school until I realized that all of my free time was spent experimenting in the kitchen.” She says that the labs and in-kitchen classes challenged her and that her instructors pushed her to reach her potential. “The classroom curriculum enabled a more broad vision of what it is like to be a chef. Without the full scope of the curriculum there, I would not be able to approach this job in the way that I am now.”
She admits that life in the culinary industry is tough, requiring a hardworking, consistent attitude. “All chefs fail at some point or another, because food is a endless palate. The fact of the matter is that you will get out what you put in. I'm sure people have heard that over and over again, but we must rise to the challenges that are placed in front of us.” Kirsten mentions that her instructors wanted her to be successful and encouraged her to become a consistent, and curious culinary artist.
“It’s been a wild ride, and I am excited to see the way things keep on unfolding. I do have to say though that as much as I have reaped rewards of hard work and determination, not one bit of any of it would be possible without the network of chefs teaching, guiding, helping, and encouraging me. One cannot be a chef alone.”
Ryan SullivanDigital Filmmaking & Video Production , 2012Read More
Promotions Producer for Sinclair Broadcast Group
Ryan Sullivan is a promotions producer for Sinclair Broadcast Group. He writes, edits, and films news talent to promote daily events for KEYE TV News in Austin, Texas. Ryan also produces spots to promote station branding. “My typical workday begins with me going over current events happening around our city. I will write and produce commercials. And before the 10 o'clock news, I will sit in meetings to find the story we will promote for the newscast,” he says.
Prior to working with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Ryan was a video editor for Americas Auction Network. He worked in promotions at Great 38 TV in Tampa and at FOX 29, WOAI NEWS 4, and the CW 35 in San Antonio, Texas.
He says that there are daily challenges in his job, including breaking news and stories that don’t make the cut to the final broadcast. He adds that he’s currently facing the obstacle of finding time to pursue his passion of making movies. Ryan adds that he’s focused on providing innovative creative solutions that look good and reach the intended audience. “It is hard to reinvent the wheel. The same applies with creating a good commercial. Using typography different ways proves difficult. There is a fine line between trying to be unique and not overdoing it.”
To promote a positive and creative environment in his workplace, Ryan always enters the studio refreshed and happy. “News can be a struggle, between a short leash and contained creativity, you have to stay upbeat. I think my coworkers can rely on me to keep things light and under control.” In addition to bringing positivity to the workplace, Ryan is proud to have been nominated for Emmy and National Promotional awards.
Ryan, who in 2012 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking & Video Production from The Art Institute of Tampa, says that his education provided a foundation for his career success. “The programs that I use and the equipment I use, were [part of the curriculum] during my four years at The Art Institute of Tampa.”Read More...
What Will I Study?
This is my passion. This is my time.
There’s nothing easy about our Culinary Arts curriculum, which will immerse you in both traditional and emerging flavors from every corner of the world. You’ll cover a range of cuisines from Mexican to Middle Eastern as you study:
- Culinary Techniques
- Classical Techniques
- Sanitation & Safety
- Baking and Pastry Techniques
- Management by Menu
- Garde Manger
- Foodservice Technology
- Food & Beverage Operations Management
- Planning & Controlling Costs
- World Cuisine
- American Regional Cuisine
- Asian Cuisine
- Latin Cuisine
- A la carte Kitchen
- Art Culinaire
I'm looking for my proving ground.
At The Art Institute of Tampa, creativity is our core, our calling, our culture. Our Culinary Arts School is built on that creative foundation. It’s also built on our knowledge that a creative career is not for the faint of heart. Because it’s tough out there, it’s tough in here. But along with that toughness comes all the support you’ll need at every step along the way. That’s why we provide the mentoring and real-world experience to help you prevail, with faculty* who’ve worked in the field, along with opportunities to learn that go far beyond our kitchens. You’ll be encouraged and expected to be bold. To take risks. To push yourself and the people around you. It won’t be easy. In fact, it’ll be the hardest thing you’ll ever love.
*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.
Meet Our Faculty
Krishna SadasivamMedia Arts & AnimationRead More
I embraced creativity from a very early age. Working as an engineer, I made comics online – poking fun of technology and geek culture. A few of them were published on CNET, and that led to a regular paid gig with a tech magazine in Europe. Getting my first paycheck and seeing my work in print in a glossy magazine with a large circulation made me realize there were opportunities to make money with my art.
My clients have included Microsoft, Bandai Namco, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Whether it’s designing a movie poster, pitching an idea, documenting process work, or knowing how to read and prepare a contract, I routinely bring my professional experiences and lessons learned into the classroom. It’s absolutely critical for students to understand that in today’s workforce, you have to wear many hats, work hard, ask questions, and have a can-do attitude. My job as an instructor is to give my students the time, tools and resources they need to become successful in their chosen field.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
Teamwork and resource sharing are critical to success in this industry. Working across disciplines mirrors reality, and it’s important to understand and work within the dynamics of a team to get the work done.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Mariela H. GencoCulinary ArtsRead More
Mariela H. Genco
It had to be when I was a little girl and my mother found me in the kitchen trying to make a "peach cake," which consisted of everything I could possibly find that had something to do with baking. That’s when I knew a 9-to-5 job just wasn't going to cut it. I needed more of an outlet.
Collaboration is very important to student success. In the culinary industry, you’re a member of a team that works together to accomplish a common objective. Buying into the team concept usually leads to positive results—not only in the classroom, but also in a professional kitchen.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My position as a chef instructor lets me combine my passion for culinary with the structure of higher education.