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Live! Inside the TCC kitchens

In this series, we provide a closer look at hands-on learning during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 means online learning for most Tidewater Community College students, some are back in the classroom for hands-on training. In fact, more than 400 sections of classes in interior design, automotive, health professions, welding, veterinary technology, culinary arts, visual arts, electronics technology and other programs have on-campus components. 

A peek inside the TCC kitchens

Step inside the TCC kitchens for International Cuisine and you’ll see students preparing food specialties from around world. In the large commercial space, students are working at individual cooking stations, creating dishes that look great, and smell even better!

“It may look different in here with the distancing, masks and cleaning protocols, but it’s all going well,” said chef Caroline Blackmon, who joined the college in 2015 after owning and operating her own cafe and catering business.

She added, “For culinary courses, the book helps teach concepts, but there’s nothing that beats the real-world experiences you gain in the kitchen.”

Chef Caroline Blackmon helping with a recipe.

International Cuisine is considered a “challenge” class, where students work independently and select recipes to demonstrate their skills. During this lab, TCC student chefs are creating a variety of entrees from matzo ball soup to curry tuna and couscous to American pot roast.

What if I can’t cook?

You don’t need any experience to sign up for the Culinary Arts program at TCC. Anyone with the desire to cook and the willingness to work hard can excel in the program. TCC’s Culinary Arts program is taught by expert faculty chefs who combine practical experience and academic perspective in all course work and integrate computer applications in the classroom and labs.

Student voices

“This is a program where we help each other, and I feel relieved to be back at school,” said Angelique Sherrod. “I absolutely, positively love it. I would not trade my time here for any of those fancy schools. This place feels like home.”

“This has been a very encouraging and positive experience,” said Brandon Parrish. “Chef Blackmon is kind, helpful and honest. She also has high expectations because she knows we can do it and wants us to succeed.”

“I completed the sanitization and safety class with chef Amie Burns last fall and now we are using those skills daily,” said Tarranium Burns. “I’m excited to get out there and use what I’m learning in the culinary world.”

Good to know

TCC’s Culinary Arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation Accrediting Commission. Students who complete TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and maintain a student membership in ACF automatically receive their first industry credential, Certified Culinarian.

TCC students can complete their TCC culinary degree for less than the cost of one semester at a for-profit, four-year culinary school.

Sign up!

To learn more about TCC’s culinary program, email program head chef Don Averso at For more information about getting started at TCC, email or call 757-822-1111.