The Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) recognized professional foodservice-training programs with the 2017 Idaho Potato Commission Leadership Innovation Awards for Excellence in Foodservice Education at the 13th-annual Leadership Conference of the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) at the new International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach—part of South Carolina’s Horry Georgetown Technical College system—on June 22.

Criteria for this year’s IPC Innovation Awards centered on education delivery via creative use of familiar social-media platforms for class assignments, research, ideation and inspiration, as well as general communication. The awards were open to all foodservice instructors in high schools and postsecondary schools nationwide.

“Beginning with the first Leadership Conference, the Idaho Potato Commission has supported innovative teaching techniques at culinary schools,” says Don Odiorne, IPC vice president-foodservice. “We created IPC sponsorships and scholarships to expand educational and culinary creativity and to generate long-term benefits for both the Idaho Potato and the foodservice industries. Maximizing social media is an important step along the way.”

Hervé Guillard, a baking/pastry instructor at College of the Canyons’ Institute for Culinary Education in Santa Morita, Calif., earned this year’s top IPC award with his concept of teaching proper food safety and sanitation via popular platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Students asked social-media users to reveal if they had ever experienced illness due to consuming prepared foods or ingredients that were not stored, handled and/or cooked properly. Once students received responses, they asked additional questions concerning symptoms, illness duration and whether or not the incident was reported to the source. Finally, Guillard tasked students with constructing an epidemiology and making educated guesses as to how food-safety principles were violated in each case.

Students reacted positively to the project, saying they became more engaged with the teaching material by relating it to real-life situations. Further, they discovered that food-borne illnesses are not restricted to the restaurant environment and gained a better understanding of how social media expands the way people communicate.

Jill Hurt, a culinary instructor in Family and Consumer Sciences at Bourbon County High School in Paris, Ky., was runner-up for the 2017 Innovation Award. For Hurt and her students, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became vehicles from which to promote and sell items from the school’s Culinary Pathway’s catering business and culinary classrooms. Leading up to NFL Super Bowl 51 last February, Hurt used Facebook to promote sales of student-prepared containers of Buffalo chicken dip, mini Hot Browns and cookies. Not only did shared information increase sales, but interested customers swelled the distribution list for the program’s business catering. Resulting profits supplement funding for ingredients and other classroom and kitchen-lab needs.

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