LEARNING TO COOK: A two-way street

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Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2014

Soups Up: Chef Beckwith chopping veggies for the Vegetarian Spring Vegetable Soup; a new menu item at the Metropolitan Grill. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

Soups Up: Chef David Beckwith chopping veggies for the Vegetarian Spring Vegetable Soup; a new menu item at the Metropolitan Grill. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

DENVER, Auraria Campus — Regardless of how busy he gets, Chef David Beckwith will always find the time to help guide his students in the right direction. He appreciates seeing students getting as excited and passionate about food as he does.

“You can see it. You’re teaching and then going through something or watching them work and you see the light bulb go on,” he said.

The second week of April was a busy week for Beckwith. Beyond his usual schedule teaching Baking and Pastry, Food Fundamentals, Food Science, and Food Production and Service II, Beckwith showcased a healthy cooking demonstration with student volunteers, started production for Easter bakery items and directed students as they launched a new menu and updated the ambience at the Metropolitan Grill. On top of that, Beckwith and his team prepared foods for The Key to Success: HTE Career and Internship Fair that hosted more than 110 students and 27 exhibitors, and served a dinner for 10 at the Metropolitan Grill. Throughout the commotion, Beckwith always kept a steady, upbeat pace and still took the time to make sure his students were on task and working together.

Sandwich Sculptor: Chef David Beckwith preparing sandwiches for exhibitors at The Key to Success: Career and Internship Fair. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

Sandwich Sculpting: Chef David Beckwith preparing sandwiches for exhibitors at The Key to Success: Career and Internship Fair. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

Heidi Torres, one of Beckwith’s student’s in Food Production and Service II, said that the most important thing she has learned from Beckwith is teamwork.

“We just all have to come together as a class. It’s like a job. If somebody doesn’t show up than we’re all behind,” Torres said.

Beckwith has worked with renowned chefs such as Julia Child, Roger Verge, the Troisgros brothers, Gaston LeNotre, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Louise Waters and many more. He has more than 25 years of experience as an executive chef in many top-rated restaurants nationwide and knows what teamwork is all about.

“It’s about sincerely and honestly engaging with each other,” Beckwith said. “Learn from one another.” The first thing you do is “check your ego at the door.”

Jared Doty knows firsthand about Beckwith’s approach to teamwork. The point is to find common ground and get on the same level as your team.

Tricks of the Trade: Students enrolled in Food Production and Service II gather around Chef Beckwith and learns together as a team. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

Tricks of the Trade: Students enrolled in Food Production and Service II gather around Chef Beckwith and learn together as a team. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

“He makes you be humble,” Doty said.

In the mid-80s, Beckwith cut his fingers damaging the tendons. He was the head chef at Fog City Diner in San Francisco. He relied on his team to make it through the horrendous episode.

“It was horrible,” Beckwith said. “I remember the sous-chef was taking me to the hospital and I was in so much shock that I had my head hanging out the window when it was pouring down rain.”

Beckwith is a team player when teaching as well. He believes that teaching and learning is a two-way street.

“If you’re going to be a good teacher, you have to be a good student,” he said. “Learn how other people learn … how to bring out the best in a person, because that’s what they want from you anyway. It’s a part of the job. You want the best out of yourself; my job is to make sure that I support that happening for you.”

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Daniel Day

About Daniel Day

Daniel Day is a journalist currently studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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