Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) January 28, 2012

Salt Lake Community Colleges Culinary Arts program has a new director. Since he arrived at the College in September, Andreas Fleckenstein has taken a business-like approach to making sure that SLCC students are well prepared in all aspects of the industry. Hes also set his sights on bolstering the professional and educational opportunities for people in his program.

Having set his sights on expanding the program, perhaps even to eventually include an on-campus hotel to enable the program to offer a comprehensive hospitality program, Fleckenstein began working on bringing in Mist Project Executive Chef Gavin Baker as soon as he heard it might be a possibility.

Chef Bakers experience illustrates the expansive possibilities open to graduates, and demonstrates the unique challenges that creative people in the field must navigate to realize those possibilities, Fleckensten said. I love the point of view he brings; yes, our students will get to see how much he loves to make food, at the same time, theyll also come to understand how hard it isand why its hardto make such a project happen.

As an example of the difficulty of culinary artshow the field is about more than food and practitioners needs to be adept at more than cookingFleckenstein points to how the Mist project capitalizes on the Sundance Film Festival being in town. Chef Baker is able to inspire students to do anything, because he already has, Fleckenstein said. One great aspect of his visit is that it demonstrates how culinary arts has always been and will always be about more than foodits art, culture and creativity. Chef Bakers idea to locate here during Sundance is perfect from a marketing standpoint, but more than that it provides an ideal link between our craft and all the other creative elements that inform it.

A miscommunication about directions caused a delay in Chef Bakers visit to see the students at Salt Lake Community Colleges Miller Campus in Sandy, Utah. With about half of the Colleges Culinary Art students and all of the faculty, along with the film crew working on an upcoming documentary about Baker and the Mist Project on-hand, Fleckenstein delivered an impromptu speech. His remarks began as an introduction to Chef Baker and his project, but Fleckenstein, understandably, didnt want to spoil the moment by giving too much away.

Instead, he offered students his thoughts on his own career pathwhat made him successful and how, from his considered perspective as the new director of a major Culinary Arts program, his experience might translate to their situations.

Fleckenstein spoke of his beginnings in which he had the opportunity to take the well-worn route to any career in the industrytaking a low paying, highly demanding and time-intensive job at a well-respected establishment.

Then he decided the traditional career path wasnt for him. Fleckenstein detailed the many jobs hes hadexecutive chef, business consultant, mechanic, financial analyst, chef instructor among them. The one constant in my careerand the reason Ive been able to do what Ive doneis that I was always learning and always in school getting one degree after another, he said. When I started in the industry, a college degree was plentythe associates degree youll leave here with was enough to make your way in business. People with masters degrees were pretty rare. But its a different world today, and youll need to keep learning and keep building on the education youre starting here.

Fleckenstein told his students that Executive Chef Gavin Baker is just the kind of person who combines a strong work ethic with life-long learning that is most likely to find success in a notoriously difficult industry.

After a short delay, Chef Baker introduced himself to the assembled students and faculty. He then told them tales of his career and life path. He got a start running a restaurant at a very young age in North Carolina. He left to learn from the best in the industry. One of his experiences included walking from London to Scotland. In the middle of winter. Cooking and working where he could and often sleeping on the ground along the way.

After his walkabout, while working in a good job and earning a six-figure salary from a respected English restaurant, he left to take a non-paying position at the Fat Duckone of the worlds finest establishments. After the first five weeks without payand after losing his girlfriend at the timehe secured a paying position at the restaurant. He recounted a few of the lessons he learned there, and how his experiences helped to shape his worldviewone that now informs his Mist Project.

Ive never made a traditional decision in my life, but through all the crazy decisions there is one thing that has always remained true: I want to cook at the highest possible level, said Chef Baker. Its what inspires many decisions in my life, especially my decision to finally open Mist, a guerrilla restaurant that produces incredible food and an incredible experience everywhere it exists.

The mission of The Mist Project reaches farther than bringing delicious, regionally inspired food to new cities every few months. Using the worldSalt Lake City in this instanceas his laboratory, Chef Gavin Baker is visiting locations with what he considers to be overlooked or undiscovered food traditions to interact with knowledgeable locals and learn about their native foods.

This endeavor aims to, first, create amazing food and bring it to cities across the nation, and second to find solutions to the global food crisis by research and reinterpret lost or forgotten indigenous foods.

As part of this effort, Baker and his team were delighted to come to Salt Lake Community College to talk with students in the College Culinary Arts program. After explaining the kinds of foods the Mist Project would serve, he solicited volunteers from the student body to assist with the projecttelling them that volunteering is a great way to taste the food for those whose budgets cant accommodate the $ 150 per person price.

The Mist project opened on Jan 19, and will run nightly through Feb 19. The 15-course dinner takes guests on a journey of food and molecular gastronomy in the site of the former Metropolitan restaurant at 173 W. 300 S. in Salt Lake City. 36 tickets are available each night, and a special local guest chef will be featured each Monday. Guest Chefs include: Communals Colton Soelberg, Viet Pham of Forage, Ryan Lowder of Copper Onion and Plum Alley, and Takashi Gibo of Takashi.

A documentary film crew, working on a film with the working title: Beneath the Mist: The Making of the Mist Project, was on hand documenting the interaction between Chef Baker and SLCC students and faculty.

The documentary film is conceived as a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges involved in transforming a working non-restaurant space into one of the great culinary events in North America. Its filmmakers are interested in examining more closely the compelling backstories associated with the making the Mist Project a success in Salt Lake and beyond.

About the College: Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, urban college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Educating and training more than 62,000 people each year, the College is the largest institution of higher education in Utah. The College has 13 sites, an eCampus, and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake valley. Courses are offered during both traditional and accelerated semesters, during the daytime, evenings, and weekends. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the College, which maintains a student-to-teacher ratio of less than 20 to 1.

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