Classic cooking shows--Julia Child’s The French Chef and Graham Kerr’s The Galloping Gourmet--inspired a young man from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to pursue a career that now impacts the educational and professional development of students in the Culinary Management program at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ).
Chef Grigsby, Professor of Culinary Management at Florida State College at Jacksonville, is a recipient of the 2021 Postsecondary Educator of the Year Award from the Center for the Advancement of Food Service Education. However, before reaching this point professionally, he learned about the industry while watching television chefs as a child.
After the steel mill crash in Pennsylvania, Chef Grigsby left Pittsburgh and, at his brother’s urging, relocated to Palm Beach where he began a newly created 3-year apprenticeship at The Breakers, a luxury resort hotel. This foundational experience led to the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta and other exclusive clubs and hotels.
At FSCJ, Chef Grigsby is now part of a 5-person instruction and operational team offering a Culinary Management associate degree program, one of 2 state college programs of twelve possible in the state to receive an exemplary rating because of full compliance. The program was accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission through 2026. FSCJ also offers a Culinary Arts Technical Certificate. Students learn menu and marketing, food production, nutrition, and hospitality management.
Students meet learning objectives via different labs. For example, Chef ensures plenty of onions are available to practice knife skills. Students execute skills through a simulated restaurant environment, Café Frisch, created through a financial gift by Holocaust Survivor and Jacksonville resident, Harry Frisch, founder of Beaver Street Fisheries. Proper plating, receiving customer feedback, and restaurant operations are imperative aspects of the curriculum. Chef said, “You can’t learn computer programming without a computer. You can’t learn all aspects of culinary arts without a restaurant.”
FSCJ students have access to an Aquaponics lab and an organic garden featuring various fruits and herbs, speaking to the Chef’s commitment to using seasonal fresh foods. He said, “When the door at Whole Foods opens up and you smell strawberries, that’s when you use strawberries.” This concept was reinforced during his 4-restaurant stage in FSCJ’s sister city of Nantes, France, where he learned more about various cooking techniques and grew accustomed to 4 AM trips to market and to local rabbit and goat farms to source daily ingredients.
While Chef prefers to cook sans-recipe, some roles in the profession involve distinct precision--pastry chefs who cannot deviate from a recipe or risk failure, or a hospital dietician who must adhere to careful guidelines to maintain a patient’s health. Students can use the AS program as a foundation for a nutrition degree to create menus for athletes or individuals with special dietary needs. They also learn important concepts about trends, projections, interpersonal skills, and how food brings people together. “Conflict resolution begins at the table,” Chef stated.
Culinary Arts graduates are making their careers in the region, at Restaurant Orsay, Black Sheep Restaurant, and One Ocean for example. “I always walk past the kitchen to check for former students,” Chef said.
Adriana Farrell, Culinary Arts 2020 Graduate, is excited about her career pathway. She said, “The program revolves around teaching students the different skills needed for every position in a restaurant, from a waiter to a chef. When I first walked into Café Frisch, I opened the door to a successful future. FSCJ’s Culinary Program has helped turn myself into the chef I once dreamed of becoming.“
The program involves completion of two internships. Opportunities range from international, national, and regional internship opportunities. Chef recommends that students “Try two completely different internships. Determine what you want but don’t be disappointed with where you may go. Travel is essential to learn more about types of food and various preparations.”
To watch FSCJ students share their internship experiences, click: