First person: Cooking camp

Courtesy photo Clovis High School culinary teacher Judy Uerling works on the cost specifics of a mac and cheese recipe in the Golden Corral test kitchen.

Clovis High School ProStart and culinary teacher Judy Uerling spent a week in July getting what she called the best professional development training she’s had in years.

Uerling was selected as a winner of the 2011 ProStart Educator Training and Development Awards by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

As part of the award, Uerling spent a week of training with Golden Corral at its corporate headquarters in Raleigh, N.C.

All levels: We were exposed to all aspects of the corporation. We met with Golden Corral vice presidents, human resources, marketing, purchasing, distribution and even the test kitchen. It was very insightful to see all the intricacies of how a corporation works.

Recipe work: Me and the two other teachers that went worked with their senior manager of recipe development on staff in the test kitchen. Everything Golden Corral makes in made from scratch. We experimented with mac and cheese. We had to cost out our recipes down to the penny. In one class, we learned how in a large corporation, a three cent increase means almost $18,000 increase in costs.

Serving stations: We went to a restaurant and rotated at different stations. We greeted customers, refilled the beverage station, worked in the bakery, and the Italian station where we made pizzas from scratch, as well as the dish room.

Portion control: Portion control is very important in making money, which they are a corporation to make money. We worked on restaurant math and profit margins. We also looked at what staffing is required and what it costs.

Company with a heart: Golden Corral really is a company with a heart. They care about their people. They told us a personality is so important. First impressions are very important. I have stressed that in the classroom but I will reiterate it. To get a job, you have to me articulate and dress up for the interview. You how to show interest, a passion and ambition and be a self starter.

Report back: I have so much good to tell my students about my experience. It was a good exercise for me. I had not worked in a restaurant besides my own. It was great for me to get back in the industry. It’s good to put ourselves in our students positions. The training brought me up to date, which will help my students.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Liliana Castillo