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Joe Smith - Personal Story

Baking requires the right ingredients and the right timing – which is what Jim Curran found in Columbus State’s Baking Certificate.

After losing a job in 2009, Curran, 50 received some money for training as part of a severance package. He looked around for some baking training he could do, either as a hobby or a possible career. Most programs he found were either too elementary, “too elitist,” or too expensive – but Columbus State’s Baking Certificate seemed just right. He started the program in January 2010.

The 8-class certificate has a good grounding in the science and theory of baking, as well as lots of hands-on time in the kitchen. The classes meet in the evenings, and there’s a good mix of professionals and hobbyists, Curran says.

Jim Curran“It seemed exactly what I was looking for,” Curran said. “It’s been a blast.”

Curran’s training is in computers, which wouldn’t seem to have much to do with making pies and cookies. But baking requires getting the ingredients in the right proportions, understanding the chemical reactions that occur, and determining precisely how long to leave something in the oven. It’s actually the nerdiest of the culinary arts.

“You start learning stuff that makes the recipes make sense,” Curran says. “There’s just something about following a formula and at the end of it you get this wonderful treat that you can enjoy.”

The Baking Certificate has filled up quickly, said Chef Karen Krimmer (an instructor), growing from 12 students to 60 since it started in 2006. The program is good for home bakers or aspiring entrepreneurs – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects baking jobs to increase 11.84 percent from 2006-2016.

The Baking Certificate is part of Columbus State’s Hospitality Management program, which offers degrees and certificates such as Restaurant Management, Chef Apprentice, Dietetic Technician and School Foodservice. Students who want a larger education can take the new Restaurant & Foodservice Management: Baking & Pastry Arts Track associate degree.

Columbus State has a wide variety of programs that appeal to those just looking to learn, as well as those looking to further their careers. Many hobbyists learn how to maintain their garden with Landscape Design/Build Classes, or work on their cars with Auto Tech. Others come back for a History or Philosophy course.

Jim CurranCurran isn’t planning to become a baker – he’s found a new job providing IT management services for a company in Lewis Center – although he might try opening a bakery once he retires. For now, he’s happy having the best scone in the office every morning.