Paul McPherson's first job was washing dishes at The Clock, a 24-hour restaurant on the corner of the street where he grew up in Detroit. He was still in high school when he worked his way up to cooking over-easy eggs, grilled steaks and BLTs. He continued to work as a cook all through college while he majored in food service management. Something about the fast pace of the kitchen, the energy and excitement of serving a lot of meals fast - he loved it.
Today McPherson wears chef's whites with the traditional black and white checked pants. His tunic is embroidered with CCC and CCE, which stand for Certified Chef de Cuisine and Certified Chef
Educator respectively. He's now Chef Paul rather than a short order cook.
He's been teaching culinary students for 15 years now, but before that he was an executive chef with Holiday Inn and an executive sous chef with Hyatt Hotels. Working with hotels gave him an opportunity to hone many different skills, in the kitchen and out. As an executive chef he spent at least half his time on administrative duties. "It was never boring," he says. "There was always something new to learn."
Not every chef wants to go that route; some are more than happy to stick with a small restaurant and stay closely involved with the kitchen. "In large establishments, such as a hotel in Las Vegas, an executive chef spends 110 percent of his time on administration," says McPherson.
"My biggest forte was organizing large banquets, Sunday buffets and special events like Mother's Day brunches. I liked developing the special menu, as well as creating the ice carvings and the lavish displays. I really liked creating something of that volume and size that also looked and
McPherson teaches several of the basic culinary courses at WCC but his favorite is the Garde Manager class (pronounced Gar Ma-jay), which is essentially cold food preparation from appetizers to fruit and vegetable arrangements to ice sculpting. In other words: banquets. He tells students they will have an opportunity to be creative; recipes are just a jumping off point for their own innovation and imagination, "That's all part of the Garde Manager mystique."
As a teacher he finds he's challenged constantly both with keeping on top of the material and helping students learn the necessary skills. "I like the variety and challenge," he says. "And I think WCC students become well-rounded chefs with a broad understanding of the business and sound culinary skills."
Students come to Washtenaw Community College for a number of reasons. Some are preparing to transfer to a
four-year university while others come seeking a degree to improve their job status. Whatever the reason,
students find that WCC can make a difference in their lives.
Learn about the successes of some of WCC's previous students by selecting their name.
Washtenaw Community College's faculty members bring a unique collection of specialties and experiences to our campus. Their life experiences and diverse backgrounds offer students a different perspective in the classroom and add to the vibrant culture at WCC.
Learn about the backgrounds and interests some of WCC's faculty members by selecting their name.