An Education in Hospitality
By Carlos Cooper
Words by: Carlos Cooper Photos by: Rachel Benavides
From fine dining and international cuisine to baking and sugary confections, you’ll find sweet, savory, and everything in-between at the Del Mar Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts program. The program is tried and true, its status as one of the top programs in the Coastal Bend is further cemented by its accreditation as Exemplary by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) through 2021.
Del Mar College offers associates in applied science degrees in Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry Specialization, and certificates in Cook/Baker and Hospitality Management. During their time in these programs, students are offered opportunities to gain real world, applied experiences while still in school. Several courses are offered that allow students to learn how to run restaurants by actually preparing and serving meals to the public. The students take turns trading staff positions from “manager to dishwasher and everything in-between,” according to Lisa Pollakis, Associate Professor of Hospitality Management and Program Coordinator. Two different courses are offered in this format, one in which is a lunch with a more “cafeteria style” and another that is “international cuisine” which is tailored towards a fine-dining experience.
For those with a sweet tooth, every other year, a course focused specifically on chocolate is offered. Students learn the background of and how to use high quality chocolate, even that from Europe such as couverture chocolate, and other ingredients like cocoa butter, fruit purees, vanilla bean, and liquors as part of ingredients they came to master. The course ends in a “Chocolate Gala” event where the students are able to show off their sweet confectionary skills ranging from chocolates, confections, candies, savory recipes, and drinks.
Del Mar’s Hospitality Management program is not only known for providing the highest quality education to its students, but also for its successful graduates who have gone on to both regional and national success. Food Network’s popular series “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” featured two 2000 graduates for their Austin-based restaurant, The Noble Pig. The Noble Pig was also featured by Adam Richman, known for “Man Vs. Food”, as part of his “Best Sandwiches In America” series.
Although the success story of the Noble Pig takes place in Austin, many graduates stay in Corpus Christi and work throughout the Coastal Bend, some even open their own restaurants. “Quite a few of our alumni are in the business in the area, including Vick's Famous Hamburgers,” says Pollakis. “[Vick's is] my husband’s restaurant, he’s a 1986 graduate.” Pollakis also describes her experiences going out to eat as a culinary professor. “Pretty much everywhere I go, I see students out there.”
The program continues to educate its students and help send them out into the world with the knowledge and readiness to succeed in whatever it is they may choose to do.