Teacher At Valencia College’s Disney World Center For Culinary Arts Named Country’s Top Chef Educator
We’ve got some exciting culinary news Disney friends! According to a piece in the Osceola News-Gazette, Chef Jennifer Denlinger, an educator at the Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts & Hospitality at Valencia College has been voted Chef Educator of the Year for 2020!
This distinction is given by the American Culinary Federation and is awarded to an active culinary educator whose knowledge, skills and expertise have helped elevate the image of professional chefs. In addition, the successful candidate provides leadership, guidance and direction to students seeking a career in the culinary arts.
Jennifer Robertson, executive dean of Valencia College’s Poinciana Campus had this to say about Denlinger’s Award, “Chef Jenn, as we all call her, has an amazing ability to combine her love for cooking with educating our future chefs of America using creative and fun techniques that keep students engaged and inspired.“ Robertson added, I am extremely proud of all her accomplishments and particularly her most recent award of Chef Educator of the Year.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those in the running for the ACF Chef Educator award had to conduct home demonstrations and send footage into the federation. Chef Denlinger had to get video cameras, sound bar sand more to gear up the classroom at the Poinciana Campus. However, she told the News-Gazette that she used this to her advantage. Denlinger said, “I was in my own place, using my own equipment. I didn’t have to travel with pots and pans and do this in the middle of a ballroom in Dallas.” She continued. “The degree of difficulty would have been the same, but in a different place.”
Before taking top honors, Denlinger was judged on her portfolio, recipes and lesson plans. Before moving to the finals she also had to demonstrate a dish that all her beginning students needed to make. The dish in question was Chicken Chasseur (braided chicken, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic and veal stock.) She ran over the time limite by 58 seconds but still managed to come out on top!
When asked about what she love’s about teaching, Denlinger told the News Gazette, “The most rewarding thing about teaching is when my students get excited about what they make – and they show their moms, and they take pictures of their dishes and put them on social media.” She continues. “Or when they start something that they think is going to be so complicated or hard or scary – like ‘sausage day.’ It sounds so terrible, but when you actually do it , it’s pretty cool.”
Denlinger earned a Master’s and Doctorate and has 14 years of experience. Disney regulars might recognize Chef as she makes regular appearances at the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. Here resume also includes stints and much-loved Disney restaurants including California Grill, Flying Fish Café, Le Cellier and all the festivals.
Congratulations once again Chef Denlinger! Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for more Disney-related culinary news and updates!
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