Beverage management at El Centro

elcentroMy third class at Dallas’ El Centro College ended last week, the first in the Beverage management format. Which means there are now 15 culinary students armed with the knowledge that restaurant wine prices are too high, the three-tier system is not our friend, and that vodka is more adaptable to cocktails than Scotch.

Beverage management replaced the wine/beer and spirits format I started with, as part of the plan to upgrade the Food & Hospitality Institute curriculum (part of which, rumor has it, involves giving adjunct instructors like the Wine Curmudgeon a desk). Beverage management focuses more on the theory and skills the students will need when they work in the industry; hence, a terrific presentation from Eddie Eakin of Dallas’ Boulevardier and Rapscallion restaurants on bar management and especially on how to cost cocktails. Who knew how expensive a dash of bitters was?

Having said that, there is still a consumer side to the class, and we will do 11 class tastings in the fall, from sparkling wine to craft beer to single malt Scotch to cocktails. The goal, over the long term, is to offer beverage management as well as separate wine and beer and spirits classes. Until then, taking beverage management as a continuing education student is one of the best values in the wine world – $177, which includes not only the tastings and some smart and fun guest speakers but my lectures, which are more or less like getting the blog in person once a week.

Finally, a word about this semester’s class. I have taught some version of this class for almost three years, first at the soon to be late Cordon Bleu in Dallas and now at El Centro, and every day I do it I understand why so many teachers enjoy teaching so much. The students paid attention, wanted to learn, and hardly ever used Snapchat in class (because, as cranky as I am, I notice these things). We had intelligent discussions about pairing food not just with wine but with beer and spirits, whether terroir existed in beer (very controversial), and the value of three-tier system. Some of them even disagreed with me on that one, which made me smile that much more.

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