Chef inspires students to find career paths through culinary arts

Helping students find their voice and their passion for cooking are some of the things that motivated Rosilind Coleman, culinary arts teacher at Moisés E. Molina High School, to go into education. Known as Chef Coleman, she didn’t start off on that path, but being raised around a family of educators, in what Coleman calls a “full circle moment,” is what made her take that leap of faith to become a teacher about 10 years ago.


“You don’t look at it when you’re in it until you look back and see how all these things came together to make you who you are,” Coleman said. 


While Coleman didn’t initially start off teaching, she said she always had that desire to want to help, to impart knowledge, and to share with others. She has also always had a love of cooking her entire life, and remembers cooking with her grandparents when she was growing up. 

She had originally worked in the advertising industry and has a master’s degree in business from Michigan State University. One of her areas of expertise is project management—skills that are necessary to manage and run a restaurant, which Coleman’s students are learning through the school restaurant they manage. 


The culinary arts and hospitality program at Molina High School is one of the largest in the district. One of the ways in which the program is unique is that they have a nice state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. Coleman has been growing and trying to evolve it into a program that they’re really proud of, she said. 


She says her business experience is something that she can help impart on her students and help them when running their in-house restaurant at school. She teaches them how to market it and manage it, and said that many of her students  go on and find opportunities and desires to open their own businesses one day. She describes her line of work as very satisfying. 


Students also learn how to operate a restaurant on campus, and even offer dining for staff members at the school at the restaurant, which is open at least twice a week. Among the services provided include outside catering events. Coleman says students learn skills such as counting money, making deposits, how to work a contract, and how to put out an estimate for catering, and looking at your books to see what’s coming in and going out.


For Coleman, it’s important to reward and support your staff—in this case it’s her students—in order to make them feel valued and appreciated for doing all the hard work.. 


In her class she teaches global food education, such as understanding and planning the menu. The students also have input, and she takes their suggestions into account during the planning process. Among some of the favorite foods that the students have experienced are beignets, which Coleman compares to those that are found at the famous Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Through food, she helps elevate their taste buds, which Coleman explains are different from adults. 


Another fan favorite is the french fries, for which the restaurant has its own special seasoning blend. Students learn how to fry the fries the proper way, resulting in a tasty recipe that no one can resist. Coleman allows the students to taste the food they make.


She recalls a moment during the pandemic when things were challenging, and the school was having cooking classes via Zoom. She said when some of the students began to come back to in-person learning, one of her students told her that being in her class helped him find his passion for food, and he knew that this is what he wanted to do.


“That just made my heart full,” Coleman said.  “After that, we helped him get into culinary school at  Dallas College, and now, he is working at the Gaylord and running his own kitchen.” 


Coleman said that some students are more interested in the business aspect of culinary arts than cooking. She recalled a student that got inspired through her class to pursue a degree in the hospitality industry. She’s now studying hospitality at the University of North Texas and wanted to be a planner and event designer for corporate events. She said helping students find their calling, even if it’s not being a chef, is one of her favorite things about this work.


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