Release Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
by Lisa Shrewsberry Lifestyles Editor
BECKLEY — The University of Charleston’s Beckley-based Culinary Arts program is alive and well, building on a foundation established in part by longtime culinary instructor Devin Godbey, CEPC, who has taken the helm as program director.
She maintains a commitment to instructing students and to teaching through involvement. Director Godbey has a number of community initiatives on her mind at present, not the least of which is: Chili.
“Our students entered recipes and we picked the ones we’re using for Chili Night,” Godbey explains, planning her Chili Night in Uptown Beckley presence, where Oct. 5 she and her students will offer traditional, chicken and cowboy-style varieties of the soup that eats like an entree.
Their Chili Night table will also showcase the local entries to the jack-o-lantern contest, which the school is accepting until noon Oct. 4.
UC Culinary students will rise early Oct. 5 to prepare breakfast for the 9 to 11 a.m. Beckley Buddy Walk to benefit the Down Syndrome Network of West Virginia, part of the Rocket Boys Festival of events scheduled the same weekend.
"Being involved in the community is part of our mission. Beckley is now the home to the University of Charleston’s only Culinary Program. The school is very excited about it and very supportive,” Godbey explains.
Still, this is a time of rebuilding. There is a mix of graduating students, those who began under the prior Mountain State University program, those who are midway to graduation and those stepping onto the new University of Charleston-Beckley campus.
Godbey is sizing up 11 students at present for their new UC-Beckley uniforms and spring enrollment will open soon to what she expects will be a number of new applicants. The school offers two culinary degrees, an associate and a bachelor of science degree in traditional culinary and in baking and pastry.
The curriculum, diversified into a number of classroom, cooking laboratory and practical experiences, is intended to prepare students for careers as professional chefs, a world with which Godbey is very familiar.
After having launched and operated her popular restaurant Delightfully Yours for a decade, it took a while for her to get back into the swing of a normal life outside the constant demands of a dining room full of customers.
“I found myself wondering what to do on Saturdays when I finally had them off. I was always used to working weekends,” she admits.
Now conveying the toughness of the food industry to neophytes entering it and determined to equip them for future success, Godbey includes courses in restaurant management in the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.
She is currently in collaboration with others in the University of Charleston’s Arts division to develop an additional course in food styling, following a market demand for food photography and staging.
Her staff is small, as Godbey describes, yet her innovative plans for the program are anything but. “We’re taking it to the next level,” she states.
For one of their first field trips this year, the staff is taking the culinary students to see Food Network celebrity chef Alton Brown in Roanoke, Va., in November. The students will continue participation in local, regional and national clubs and competitions, including those associated with the American Culinary Federation (their accrediting body), National Ice Carving Association and UC’s own Culinary Club.
“We’re working with the school to build different concepts to give students a stronger presence on campus. We’re brand new and can take this in any direction that benefits them,” she says.
Godbey still hears from past graduates of the program she has been a part of in different roles since 2010.
“A student who graduated last spring is working in New York City for Rubbermaid as a demo chef for major department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdales.” Alumni have also found careers at Disney World, the Broadmoor, Kings Mills, The Greenbrier and The Homestead resorts.
For more information about the University of Charleston Culinary Arts Program, visit www.ucwv.edu or call 304-929-1477.