After spending 12 years in various kitchens and restaurants, Michael Steiner returned to the Delaware Area Career Center this semester to serve as its new culinary arts instructor.
Steiner graduated from the DACC’s Culinary Arts program in 2011 and studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for three-and-a-half years before he helped open Senti Restaurant. He also worked full-time at several Pittsburgh fine dining restaurants. Steiner said he returned to Ohio in 2015 and started working for Cameron Mitchell, eventually serving as the sous chef at Guild House and later Cap City, where he became executive chef.
While working for Cameron Mitchell, Steiner said he began doing demonstrations at the DACC to give students a hands-on taste of what the restaurant business is like.
“What I like to teach is the practicality of what the industry actually is so that when they go out into the workforce, it’s not an eye-opener,” Steiner said. “I’m not going to sugar coat it here so they are prepared when they go out.”
Steiner took over as the schools culinary arts instructor this year, and he’s enjoyed re-doing the entire menu of the course at the school.
“I want the students to do as much work as possible,” Steiner said. “Instead of getting premade pizza crust, now we are making the pizza crust ourselves. The endgame is to have as much hands-on experience for the students as possible.”
Steiner said the DACC is the perfect fit for his energy and hands-on teaching style.
“I really don’t like being in the classroom,” Steiner said while pacing back and forth in the kitchen at the DACC. “I went to this school for a reason. … I can’t stop moving. I’m in a great field to where I can move constantly, all the time. … I’ve found they don’t learn best when sitting in a chair. They learn better when they do. That’s why DACC works. I was a below average student when I got here, but I found home here. I found what I was meant to do, and I’m glad to be able to give back to the future chefs of tomorrow, to do the same thing for them.”
Steiner said one of his favorite parts of teaching has been helping students connect to cooking and come into their own like he did when he studied at the DACC.
“It’s so rewarding to see them get it,” he said. “It’s so rewarding to see what we’re teaching click. … I love playing with food. I’m teaching what’s supposed to be taught without being in a book. I really love the fact that I’m giving these kids a creative aspect to where it’s not my menu, and it’s not my recipes. I’m giving my knowledge to make sure it’s going to work, but it’s their passion, it’s their identity. It’s everything they want on their own on a plate, that’s what makes them engage a lot more. You give them the power, and they’ll get it to you every time, whether they do it right or wrong, they’re gonna (learn).”
Steiner said another positive is that the DACC’s schedule is more conducive to having a family.
“In the industry, it’s hard to have that family life, but DACC gives you the opportunity to do what I love to do,” Steiner said. “I love food. Food is my passion, but family is my life. (This) gives me the opportunity to spend a lot more time with my family and have experiences with them as a father.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.