LBW names culinary director

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Before he was named LBW Community College’s culinary arts instructor, Michael Whelan had to demonstrate his skills.

The Arizona chef prepared a meal for college officials and members of the culinary program’s steering committee. It began with Alabama peach bisque draped with mint chantilly and featured a vegetarian entrée of heirloom tomato Provencal, roasted vegetables and sautéed beet greens lacquered with garlic and lemon essence; or buttered poached sea bass and a petite filet with a Pino Noir reduction sauce served with braised Tuscan kale infused with garlic lemon essence. The dessert selection was crème caramel with cinnamon cream and sugar lattice.

It must have been delicious, for when LBW launches its new culinary program later this month, Chef Whelan will be in the classroom and in the kitchen. The hands-on classes will be taught in the kitchen of Springdale, and the college has a list of approximately 25 students interested in enrolling in the program, LBW’s director of marketing and development, Renee LeMaire, said.

Whelan completed studies at The Culinary Arts Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Calif.

His culinary experience spans more than 25 years in all facets of gourmet cuisine, including preparation, kitchen operations and staff training. In addition, Whelan has more than 11 years full-time experience teaching at community colleges in Arizona and received the 2012 Mentorship Award from Phi Theta Kappa national honor society.

LBW Community College president Herb Riedel said, “I am very excited about bringing on board a professional with his level of training and experience.  I believe that he will become a great asset to LBWCC and the community.”

Whelan also has a certification with the American Culinary Federation, is a member of the American Association of University Professors, was selected as Outstanding Faculty at Mesa Community College, and listed in “Who’s Who” of American Colleges and Universities.

“There is great potential in the expansion of a culinary arts program within Andalusia and outlying areas,” Whelan said. “Until now, the nearest culinary program is 70 miles away.

“Our demographic studies show this program will create opportunity for the college, community and those students and residents who may desire to learn more for personal enrichment or professional growth opportunities. These jobs range from restaurants and resorts, catering, food styling, food photography, personal chef, cruise lines, corporate cafeterias, schools, medical and other institutional facilities, teaching, and many other opportunities.”

Whelan also said that some area residents have expressed the desire to take day or evening classes in such subjects as bread baking; contemporary cuisine; global soup kitchen; French, Italian, Mediterranean, Pacific Rim and Asian cuisine; flavor dynamics; sauce making; and other subjects that can be offered on a non-credit basis for a nominal fee.

“Teaching more heart-healthy meals that maintain the flavors of the region, but offer better health effects, by changing a cooking technique or substituting a few ingredients,” is also a goal, said Whelan.

He said he is looking forward to working with students, either right out of high school or continuing education, to develop a trained workforce.

“In my opinion, the measurement of an instructor’s success in this profession is how valuable your students become to their employers and the speed in which they are promoted up the ladder to achieve their goals.”

Whelan said one of his greatest accomplishments in life is raising, educating and nurturing two healthy children. On a professional level, working at several world-class resorts and restaurants throughout the country afforded him invaluable exposure to cultural diversity and international cuisine, he said.

His experience includes an externship with Siegfried Eisenberger, CMC, at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.; apprenticeship and working in Honolulu, Hawaii, with George Mavrothalasitis, CEC, at AAA-5 Diamond Halekulani Resort and La Mer Restaurant (listed in the top 10 restaurants in the world in 1991 by Conde Naste magazine); and training and working with “Iron Chef America” Alessandro Stratta, CEC, at Mobile 4 Star Phoenician Resort and Mobile 5 Star Marie Elaine’s Restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz.

For more information on LBWCC or the new culinary arts program, call 334-222-6591.