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New Courses, Certification on the Menu for Hospitality and Culinary Programs

Tim Banks

Professor Tim Banks has always been passionate about maintaining a growth mindset, especially since becoming department chair for the Howard Community College (HCC) Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies in 2018.

His personal philosophy is necessary more than ever as society copes with a global pandemic that has upended the food, travel, and event management industries. Banks said HCC is well positioned to pivot and transition as it prepares hospitality and culinary students for careers now and in the future. The curriculum has been realigned, courses have been added, and a new certificate in restaurant/hospitality management is being offered.

“We always want to be a step ahead of what the industry is doing and what the industry is talking about,” Banks said recently on HCC’s Dragon Digital Radio. “We want to teach our students the classics, but we also want to emphasize the contemporary way of doing things. We’ve gone through this whole shift of face-to-face events turning into virtual events. Some of that is going to be a permanent fixture in our landscape.

“How do we manage events that are virtually hosted? How do we do that in combination with face-to-face events? You can layer where there’s an in-person wedding reception with a virtual component. A lot of things are changing the landscape of the industry, and they’re improving what we do and what we teach.”

Banks also looks forward to Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies’ new podcast show, “At Your Service,” that launches in January. It’s an opportunity to talk about food, share student and faculty stories, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the HCC programs and industry. He said people are amazed to learn, for instance, about the levels of math and science involved in cooking, and the disparate career paths within the hospitality industry.

“It’s designed to be informational,” he said. “We’re going to be talking about all the things you ever wanted to know about culinary arts, hospitality, and the industry at large. We’re super excited about ‘At Your Service.’”

For Banks, he hopes his show will offer something for everyone. During his Dragon Digital Radio interview, he even shared some tips for cooks/hosts to use anytime, including the holiday season and the new year:

  1. Plan ahead. Prep as many things as possible ahead of time so everything isn’t left to the days before the party.
  2. Be well organized. Make sure you have the right number of plates, cups and all the things that go with that. Make a checklist and live on it.
  3. Consider everyone’s diet. Think about those who don’t eat meat, diary, etc. Create one or two items with them in mind, though all guests can enjoy.
  4. Don’t over-do it. It’s okay to center a party around three or four or five things. You don’t need 10 things; you’re just going wear yourself out.
  5. Take time for yourself. Before the party, wind down and chill out. You’re not just a host, but part of the party as well. Think about yourself in the process and have a good time, too.

Serving delicious meals and offering good hospitality is the goal of any host, whether at homes, restaurants, or hotels. Banks said meal preparation can be therapeutic, and food is attached to much of people’s emotional memories. “People love connecting over food,” he said. “All of those emotions come back and it’s often a way to reflect and have a great experience.”

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