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How This Culinary Professor Has Taken His Lessons to the Online Classroom

Photo: Courtesy of NAU

Mark Molinaro, senior chef lecturer at Northern Arizona University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, left a life of running kitchens in luxury hotels for a career in education. Here, he shares some of his thoughts about cooking, teaching, and the future of online education. 

What is your teaching philosophy? 

My goal is to be able to support and encourage students. That’s what I’m really passionate about: being able to help connect with students and teach them to understand how food works. 

What are some important lessons you teach your students? 

Great cooking is paying attention to small details and understanding how ingredients play together. I relate it to music: you have garlic, you have white wine, you have tomatoes. How are you going to put all that together to make music — make a dish that has harmony? 

Tell us about your students. 

These students are hungry; they’re very passionate. They want to make a difference. They really resonate with the notions of things beyond just production, like “why am I doing this?” They’re motivated to weave their desires to leave the world a better place into their work. 

How have you adapted your curriculum to a digital platform? 

Rather than use technology to host and deliver education, we can use it to connect and engage students with the world they so want to improve. It’s less about the wrappings and whistles (the technology), and more about using technology to connect students with each other and the world. 

What are your thoughts on online learning? 

Hosting a digital course allows for alternative, creative ways that students can both demonstrate they have achieved objectives and present material in ways that are meaningful for them. It’s a win-win.

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