In the newest Hudson County Community College (HCCC) “Out of the Box” podcast, HCCC alumnus Rene Hewitt discusses how the nationally renowned HCCC Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) has impacted his life. He also demonstrates for viewers the how-to’s of creating an easy and delicious vegetable hors d’oeuvre.
Chef Hewitt, and one of the HCCC CAI founders and most knowledgeable and beloved Chef/Instructors, Kevin O’Malley, are the guests of HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber.
“The Chef/Instructors make our program special, personal and heartfelt. What’s beautiful about our program is that so many of our faculty chefs are alumni,” said Dr. Reber. “We have incredible kitchens with state-of-the-art equipment that specialize in every aspect of the cooking experience. Students are learning in an authentic, top-shelf culinary environment,” he added.
Leaving a lifetime of experience in business and IT to pursue his passion for cooking at the HCCC Culinary Arts Institute, Chef Rene Hewitt is now a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism program, which holds classes on the HCCC campus. He is also an adjunct professor in the HCCC Continuing Education program, a tester for “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS, and the host of his own cooking program on local cable TV stations in northern New Jersey and Queens, NY.
“The first time I walked down these halls, put the chef coat on, unpacked my knives, and stepped into the kitchen, it was a whole new world. From there, I started doing videos and wanted to create these little shows and get sponsors. One of my biggest dreams was to come back here and teach,” Chef Hewitt said.
Chef Kevin O’Malley has been teaching in the HCCC Culinary Arts Program throughout its 40-year history, noting that graduates and the College’s alumni Chef/Instructors have worked in top restaurants worldwide. “Our Culinary Arts program is one of the best programs in the country. Everywhere I go I see our students’ successes, whether it’s as the chef of a favorite Italian restaurant in Rahway, or the owner of one of the best catering businesses in New Jersey,” he said.
The HCCC Culinary Arts Institute is nationally recognized for its award-winning curriculum and is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission and the American Culinary Federation Educational Foundation (ACFEF). CAI faculty take a unique approach to hands-on learning and guaranteeing personalized attention to each student. The 72,000 square-foot HCCC CAI/Conference Center includes state-of-the-art kitchens and classrooms including bakeries, hot-food and cold-food kitchens and classrooms, an ice-sculpting studio, a fish-and-butchery room, mock-hotel hospitality suite, and a library of more than 4,000 cookbooks. Its kitchens were featured in TLC’s “Cake Boss: Next Great Baker” and Progresso Soup’s “Ring-Ring” commercials.
The HCCC Culinary Arts Program podcast is part of the College’s monthly “Out of the Box” series that launched last year. Discussions featuring guest speakers focus on programs, events, issues, and solutions that affect the people of Hudson County. Links to all College podcasts may be found at https://www.hccc.edu/outofthebox.