The Fast-Growing Culinary Industry: Opportunities and Success Stories at VGCC

December 10, 2023 0 Comments

VGCC Culinary Program

The culinary industry is one of the fastest growing careers locally and across the country. Chef Ross Ragonese, VGCC’s program head for the culinary arts, says there are plenty of opportunities in restaurants, hotels, catering operations, schools and health care facilities.

Taking part in a national competition is impressive enough, but doing so with a team from your community college is an amazing achievement. Dustin Gregory of Oxford was just such a student, representing not only VGCC but the state in the SkillsUSA national contest.

Career Opportunities

The people in your area are hungry for the best food around, and restaurants, hotels, resorts, clubs, catering operations, contract foodservice and health care facilities all want trained culinary professionals to prepare their menu items. WWCC’s Culinary Arts program will give you the skills, practical experience and industry know-how you need to become one of those professionals.

The Electrical Technology program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and graduates are eligible to take State exams to become a certified Electrical Inspector. Students attending as residents of other states should check with their state’s licensing department for specific information.

VGCC student Dustin Gregory of Oxford won a national SkillsUSA competition this summer, the first-ever from our program to do so. Watch his story in the video below. He is just one of many success stories that can be yours with an associate degree from VGCC.


The Culinary Arts program provides students with the necessary skills for working in a variety of professional food service operations. Graduates can find positions in full service restaurants, hotels, resorts, clubs, catering operations and contract foodservice operations. Coursework includes theoretical knowledge/practical applications and basic cooking and baking techniques as well as advanced patisserie and bread making, American regional cuisine, international cuisine, and culinary management. The degree is transferable to most four-year institutions and satisfies the requirements of the American Culinary Federation.

Last spring, VGCC student Dustin Gregory of Oxford became the first culinary student in the state to compete in a national SkillsUSA culinary competition. He credits his success to the support he received from his instructors at VGCC and US Foods. Currently, Gregory works on his family’s farm in Rolesville where he raises cattle, pigs and chickens to help feed his family and neighbors. He hopes to someday have his own restaurant that utilizes all parts of the animals, so that nothing goes to waste.


The culinary arts program offers a 600-hour externship, which provides hands-on training in fine restaurants and hotels. Students work with professional chefs, learn food preparation techniques, nutrition and purchasing procedures. Culinary skills include classical cooking including knife cuts, soups and stocks, basic baking techniques, international cuisine, and restaurant management and service. The program follows the teaching philosophy of the American Culinary Federation.

Dustin Gregory, a culinary arts student from Oxford, recently represented VGCC at the SkillsUSA national leadership and skills competition in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the first VGCC student to compete in this national competition, which is open to all students in all states who qualify. He credits his success to the support of his family, instructors and fellow students at VGCC. He is currently working at the prestigious Capital Grille in Richmond. His dream is to one day own his own restaurant. He will be attending the University of Virginia this fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree.


VGCC students have a lot of choices when it comes to their education. The College offers a variety of degrees, certificates and continuing education courses. Students are responsible for making sure that they are familiar with the requirements of the program in which they are enrolled, and for meeting all graduation requirements. Academic advisors are available to assist students, but the ultimate responsibility for graduating lies with the student.

The Culinary Arts associate degree program provides a comprehensive two-year curriculum of culinary training for professional careers in fine restaurants and hotels. The degree prepares students for jobs as cooks, bakers, and food service managers. The program also trains culinary professionals in catering operations and contract foodservice. The Culinary Arts Institute is fully equipped with elegant dining rooms and modern instructional kitchens.

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Elevated Fine Dining: Indulge in an 8-Course Restaurant Experience

December 9, 2023 0 Comments

8 Course Meal Restaurant Style

Immerse your senses in a speakeasy fine-dining experience that elevates culinary excellence. This incredible meal includes 8 stellar dishes hand crafted on site & wine pairings.

After the fish course, you’ll likely be served a palate cleanser such as citrus sorbet or fresh fruit. Usually, dessert is the final course.

First Course

Course one is the hors d’oeuvre or amuse bouche, a bite-sized appetizer that serves to stimulate the appetite or hint at flavors to come in subsequent courses. The first main course is often a fish dish, which provides a flavorful light protein before the meat dishes of the meal.

Remember to serve your guests the right utensils for each course. They should start with the utensils that are set furthest from their plates and work toward them as the meal progresses.

Second Course

The second course is a larger appetizer plate that can be themed. Take diners on a world tour, for example, with appetizers from different countries and cuisines.

The next main course is usually fish such as shrimp scampi or grilled fish steaks. Poultry or red meat is also common. Palate cleansers such as lemon sorbet are commonly served between courses. End the meal with a cheese course and after-dinner drinks.

Third Course

A third course is often an appetizer or small bite-sized snack. It can be a delicate amuse bouche or a plate of raw fish served crudo style, house-cured charcuterie or a selection of dips. Remember to serve this course with distinct dinnerware and silverware and to adhere to utensil etiquette. Also, remove plates promptly before serving the next course.

An 8 course meal consists of an hors d’oeuvre, soup, appetizer, salad, fish, main course, palate cleanser, dessert and mignardise.

Fourth Course

A fourth course can include rare vegetables, roasted delights or special cuts of meat, coupled with savory & spiced sauces. This is often accompanied by a salad.

This is an intermezzo course that cleanses the palate before moving on to the main course. This may be a sorbet or another light palate refresher. This can also be an amuse bouche.

Fifth Course

A formal meal can have a variety of main course options. These can be local meats, rare fish or unusual cuts of poultry paired with complex sauces.

The fifth course may also include a salad or other raw vegetables. This is usually served after the first three courses and can be a palate cleanser for your guests. You can also serve a special cheese platter with light accompaniments.

Sixth Course

A sixth course can be any appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre. Remember to set a table based on the number of courses and follow utensil etiquette by serving the outermost utensils first. Also, clear plates promptly to avoid overcrowding the table.

The final two courses are the main courses, which allow chefs to showcase their skills with meats and fish. Choose a theme for your dishes to tie the meal together.

Seventh Course

The main courses represent the pinnacle of the meal. They’re designed to showcase the chef’s skills and feature high-quality ingredients like local meat, exotic fish or complex sauces.

The main course is usually followed by a palate cleanser, such as lemon sorbet, and dessert. This allows diners to digest the heavy food before enjoying the finale. It’s important to remember that each course requires a different set of dinnerware and silverware.

Nineth Course

A final course at an eight-course meal is a palate cleanser and often a mignardise. This can be a simple as an iced coffee with lemon or as elaborate as a sorbet or a small dessert. The last course is also an opportunity to showcase a theme, such as a culinary world tour or a selection of dishes with one ingredient. Serve this course in a smaller plate to make room for the next course.

Tenth Course

A full course meal usually includes an hors d’oeuvre, soup or salad, appetizer, main course, fish or meat, dessert, palate cleanser, and mignardise. A typical menu also features a selection of wines, both from new and old world.

The latest addition to Addison’s roster of tasting menus is an eight-course dinner with Michelin two-star chef William Bradley. It’s part of a series of California Collaboration dinners that Bradley hosts with chefs from around the state.

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