Indian Hills named in top 20 culinary arts programs in the nation

The culinary arts program at Indian Hills continues to attract national attention.

The program was named one of the top 20 culinary arts programs in the nation in the June issue of "Full Service Restaurants Magazine". Indian Hills is the only school in Iowa and one of only three community colleges that made FSR's list.

Chef Gordon Rader, the director of the program, said the recognition is a great honor. Chef Gordon said it is likely the connections, support and knowledge surrounding the program that attracted FSR's attention. That's not to mention the remodel done by the school in 2008, supplying students with a top-of-the-line kitchen, and opportunities like the program's annual trip to Spain.

Students who go through the program get the hands-on experience they need, and Indian Hills delivers on their promises to turn their students into great chefs.

"The promise of you becoming a chef versus the reality of the daily grind... we give you the reality and we keep our promises, which is, you're going to be a great cook, you're going to go in and plug and play and work, you're not going to be living on some fantasy cloud, because it's hard work," Chef Gordon said.

Next, Chef Gordon said the program will continue to build connections. That includes relationships with politicians to garner their support, local organizations like Market on Main and global partners like the ones already established in Europe.

Current students of the program don't disagree. Students Jesse Juran and Chad Dewitt said they chose Indian Hills because the program is so well-rounded. Not only do they get quality time in the classroom, they learn the management side as well. Small class sizes are also a bonus for lots of one-on-one instruction.

"I chose Indian Hills because it had everything I was looking for," Juran said. "It had the savory side and the pastry side, and then you can't beat the price in terms of our competition that's out there. It's a quarter of the cost and whereas I might be learning how to ice sculpt, I don't need to know that for what I want to do and they gave you all the basics of what you need to help your career along."

"You also will enjoy it a lot," added Dewitt. "[You're] able to work with a lot of food, it's a lot of fun. So it is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun."

The students' advice for anyone considering going into culinary arts is to be dedicated. Being a chef is hard work and requires long days, but as both students will attest to -- it's also a lot of fun.