Chef Swaye Brings the Heat


Ilisha Strassler

Chef Swaye sets up a monthly lunch for Ms. Robinson and superintendents around the district.

Casey McDuffie, Staff Writer

For years, Chef Swaye has been cooking on the Santaluces campus, and teaching students about the ways of the culinary industry. He is very passionate about cooking, and students both see and hear that passion as his voice fills the culinary cafe.

“I have large classes and it’s more informal in the cafe,” said Swaye. “This isn’t like a typical class, and it isn’t yelling, it’s talking loud to get everyone’s attention.”

He started off studying medicine, and decided when he retired from medicine to go into the culinary industry. When students enter the culinary academy, they start at the bottom in a level one class. They learn where everything is in the kitchen, the parts of the culinary uniform, and learn all about the utensils. In level two, students learn about other subjects, such as culinary math.

“It [the culinary math] was fun and easy for me,” said Eric Fullilove, a senior. “It keeps your brain sharp and ready for the day.”

“People think all we do is eat in this class,” said Swaye. “But we actually learn first and apply what we learn in the kitchen.”

In the third year of culinary, students take the Serve Safe exam. If they pass, they are certified to work in any place that serves food. The certification is good for five years, until students have to take it again.

Within the academy, Swaye gets to know the students, and the students get to know Swaye. From all of the lame jokes he tells, to him being serious when it comes down to student’s tasks and learning. Swaye loves to joke and say things like, “I had kangaroo once, but it jumped off my plate,” and “my water broke” when he drops his water bottle.

Another aspect of this academy; students don’t just get the business knowledge of the culinary industry and cooking in general. Students get a chance to apply what they have learned during catering functions. Even though catering is mostly for students who are at the end of their level two year and higher level classes, it is still a great way for students to apply what they have learned around people the students don’t know.

“A lot is seeing what we talk about in the class room come out when we are in the kitchen,” said Swaye. “How what we learn applies to real life situations, and also seeing people that graduated come back and visit and tell me what they’ve done since they left.”

This year, for his upper level class, he is teaching them about global cuisine. Swaye will give the class options for a menu from certain countries that he has chosen, and every group in the class has to make a certain item on the menu, and then the class gets to try everything that was made. Some of the countries that Swaye chose are, Greece, Italy, France, Mexico, China, and Japan.

Students in this academy get an experience that is different from other classes. Students not only learn how to prepare food, but they also learn about the business side of the culinary industry as well. If a student thinks they want to be a chef or learn to cook, then they’ll be getting to know Swaye in the culinary academy.