Culinary Arts students at Lorain County Community College are getting the full range of experience as they learn the skills necessary to operate in a commercial kitchen through classroom work, live food preparation and serving in the on-campus Rathskeller restaurant and even being judged by top chefs from the American Culinary Federation.

Adam Schmith

Adam Schmith

“Our students get the entire experience here,” said Adam Schmith, LCCC culinary program chef. “They’re learning the skills and then being put to the test preparing for the public two nights a week at the Rathskeller.”

The Rathskeller restaurant is located in the LCCC Norton Culinary Arts Center. It is open to the entire community on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in fall and spring semesters. It is a capstone project class staffed by LCCC culinary arts students under the watchful eye of Schmith.

The students prepare all of the food while others wait tables so they get the full understanding of restaurant operations, Schmith noted.

Several of the LCCC students also participated in the recent Greater Northeast Ohio Culinary Classic that was held at the Norton Culinary Arts Center on campus. This competition featured 20 chefs from Cleveland, Columbus, Michigan and even Los Angeles in a creative cooking contest.

Some of the LCCC culinary students competed while others along with Lorain County JVS culinary students assisted the professional chefs during the competition.

LCCC Culinary students (l-r) Michael Castro, Don Jacobsen, Charlene Reinhard, Laurence Fenderson and Caitlin DoyleStudents Michael Castro and Andrew Lorince earned silver medals while Kristina Mullen, Ray Garza, Laurence Fenderson, Dan Jacobsen and Jasmine Motley took home bronze medals in the competition.

Mullen, in her third year of the LCCC culinary program, made an airline chicken breast with pesto pine nut stuffing. Her plan is to start as a sous chef after graduation this summer and then move on with more experience and education.

The things she’s learned at competitions – this was her second – will stick with her as she moves beyond the classroom. “The experience is such a rush,” Mullen said.

Mullen had the pleasure of being judged by Certified Master Chef William Franklin of Colorado (there’s only 67 certified master chefs in the country). She said he “kind of tore her dish apart” and told her how it could be better, an experience that she said left her motivated.

“The way the chefs examine your dishes is amazing,” she said. “Classes build you up, but competition gives you experience you can’t really get in a classroom.”

This competition was presented by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Akron-Canton Cooks and Chefs.

Kristina Mullen

Kristina Mullen

“This competition brought top-notch chefs to Lorain County to compete in a rigorous, demanding contest,” said Schmith. “It also gave both our culinary students and those from the Lorain County JVS a great opportunity to work with high-achieving professional chefs.”

Mullen said the cost of the LCCC program is really affordable and the facilities of the Norton Culinary Arts Center are outstanding, but it was the instruction from Schmith that brought it all together.

“Chef Schmith goes above and beyond for us and he is very patient,” Mullen said.

For more information on the LCCC Culinary Arts program visit