Leidenschaft fur Ausbildung … A Passion for Education
Sabine Romeis, Küche, August 2007
The German Master Chef from Ausburg decides as University Dean of Culinary Arts about the guidelines for the Chef education at the Amercian Johnson & Wales University.
“You would like to know how you are becoming University Dean of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales?” Karl Guggenmos leans back: “This is a very long story.” Yet, every long story has a beginning. The story of Karl Guggenmos begins in 1964 at the Palasthotel Drei Mohren in Ausburg. At the age of 14 he set the basis for his outstanding career with his decision to apply to become a chef and waiter. Today, more than 40 years later, Karl Guggenmos is head of all four Colleges of Culinary Arts at the American Johnson & Wales University.
In the United States, where young people are usually getting educated to become a chef at cooking schools or universities, Johnson & Wales enjoys an outstanding status. With four sites and an ambitions curriculum, Johnson & Wales is considered to be the leader of chef education. The slogan “America’s Career University” underlines the claim that Johnson & Wales is much more than all the other cooking schools that cover the country by now. Right now there are more than 6,000 young students enrolled at the four J&W Colleges of Culinary Arts, who, depending on the program, duration, strive to receive a degree as Associate, Bachelor or Master. A degree from Johnson & Wales is the founding stone of a successful career in gastronomy and hotel business and opens up opportunities. The university has excellent connections to the industry and guarantees their alumni a job. A proud history of success: 95% of all students have a job within 60 days after their graduation. Karl Guggenmos: “They hold executive positions in the hotel indesutry, gastronomy or catering. They are sous chefs or executive chefs, they lead catering and banquet-division, lead their own restaurants, work as chefs for TV shows or in the food industry.”
In the 1960s a top-position was envisioned by the young apprentice in the Palasthotel Drei Mohren, too. “Back then, as a Piccolo, I dreamt of going to New York,” Karl Guggenmos remembers today. In 1974 he fulfilled his dream and left for the country of endless possibilities. He just finished two educations, one as a cook in Switzerland and Germany as well as his voluntary service in the armed forces. In the USA he gives a new meaning to his life – he takes up studies of theology at the university. But his vocation as a cook doesn’t let go of him. To pay for his tuition fees he works parallel as a cook and head chef. He marries and a daughter is born. By the end of 1979 the young family returns to Germany. Karl Guggenmos passes his examination as a kitchen chef and continues working in this profession. In 1984 the family is back in the US again. Karl Guggenmos first takes on positions as a kitchen chef and later works as a General Manager. His professional and personal competence quickly carry the German Master Chef up the job ladder. His German virtues are much sought after in the US.
Then, in 1985, his career takes the important turn: Karl Guggenmos becomes a teacher at the College of Culinary Arts of the Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. “The opportunity to teach young people and to enthuse them for the job as a cook has always been very interesting to me.” After attending an ice-carving class at Johnson & Wales he quickly sends a request to the university – and receives an acceptance. Very soon it is certain that Karl Guggenmos has found his calling. He is very popular with the students, gets involved with the further development of the curriculum and doesn’t content himself with just being a teacher: he continues to qualify, receives the bachelor’s degree of Food Service Management, and in 1992 becomes the Director of Culinary Education at the Culinary College of Johnson & Wales University in Charleston.
In 1998 he was requested to come up north to Providence. Johnson & Wales has (even more) plans with Karl Guggenmos. He “misses” the request, because his family feels very much at home in South Carolina. But Johnson & Wales doesn’t let up. Executive managers are sought for the Providence Campus, where in 1914 the success story of “America’s Career University” began. The German director in Charleston seems to be just the right one to reposition the culinary branch of the biggest J&W campus.
In 2000 it is done: Karl Guggenmos becomes the Dean of the College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. The job specification of the new dean is clear-cut: he will straighten the curriculum to fit the requirements of the 21st century, rejuvenate the staff and establish international ties, and establish Johnson & Wales as an internationally recognized and well-known name. Karl Guggenmos knows of the requirements that are expected of modern kitchen chefs by employers, society, co-workers and guests: “Whoever wants to be successful as a chef in the 21st century needs professional know-how. Technical skills and creativity on their own are no longer enough to lead a successful kitchen. Today’s kitchen chefs must develop leadership and management skills. They need to open up for new trends, international cuisine and different cultures. The need to transfer their enthusiasm for the job and their creative ideas to the team. They need to communicate with guests, colleagues and superiors. To handle the balance between creativity and economic efficiency is crucial and above all the delivery of constant quality, no matter, whether it is for franchisers, catering or fine dining.”
Dean Guggenmos not only understands and knows how to improve the staff and curriculum for the 21st century, he also proves himself as an international diplomat. Together with the IHK in Frankfurt/Main and the company F. Dick he paves the way for German students at the Johnson & Wales University. Since 2001 cooks can earn their Bachelor’s Degree at Johnson & Wales. Other exchange programs and cooperations with other culinary schools in Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, Koblenz and Swiss are established and deepened respectively. Beginning with 2002, Karl Guggenmos works with the planning staff for the new Charlotte campus of J&W.
Karl Guggenmos manifold commitments lead in 2004 to the appointment of the University Dean of Culinary Arts being responsible for all Culinary Colleges of the four Johnson & Wales sites. This newly created position crowns with success the career of the former apprentice at the Palasthotel Drei Mohren. It allows Karl Guggenmos to position the culinary branch internationally, to attact international students and to build new international bridges. One of the foremost responsibilities remains the recruitment of new managers. Whoever wants to build up a successful career as a teacher or manager at the Culinary Colleges needs to have one thing: passion. A passion for the profession, a passion for the industry and a passion for the work with young people. Exactly those qualities that took the former apprentice from the Palasthotel Drei Mohren to be University Dean of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales.