Culinary Arts

Do you dream about being the next Top Chef? Are people constantly asking you where you go the recipe for your Matzoh balls? Culinary Arts offers you the opportunity to be hands-on in the kitchen with professional chefs who will engage you in every aspect of running a kitchen and preparing great food. From choosing the right ingredients, learning new cooking techniques, and understanding the history and culture of food, you and your team will work alongside your Artist in Residence (and special guest chefs) to learn how to plan a menu and understand the process of transforming raw ingredients into delicious dishes. Your culinary creations will be showcased, served, and devoured at the JCC Maccabi Final ArtsFest Showcase.

Introducing our 2019 Culinary AIR – Chef Joan Melnick and Chef David Balla

Chef Joan Melnick has been in the foodservice business for the past thirty years. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Joan worked in several local restaurants, The Palace of Auburn Hills and catering companies. For several years, she was the chef/owner of her own bakery/cafe. She also served as the Artist in Residence for the 2014 Maccabees games in Detroit. Currently, she is working as the lead cook at Brighton High School, where she not only enjoys her job but the more regular schedule! In addition, she teaches cooking classes at Sur la Table several times a week and spends the summer at Camp Tamarack as the long term Artist in Residence teaching cooking classes to young people. Her favorite job, however, is being Mom to Ben and Noah Balla, her teenage sons!

Pastry chef and production manager David Balla has a wealth of culinary experience, having worked at a variety of establishments including country clubs, The Palace of Auburn Hills, fine dining restaurants, and as a chef instructor of commercial baking at Zingerman’s Bakehouse.

David is a member of both the American Culinary Federation and the National Ice Carvers Association, where he has participated in many competitions, educational classes, and seminars. Preparing extensive and elaborate dessert buffets and showpiece displays using many media including sugar, bread, and ice is David’s forte.

He is a graduate of Oakland Community College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in culinary arts, and of Eastern Michigan University, from which he received a bachelor’s  with a degree in individualized study with a focus on business management. David looks forward to returning to JCC Maccabi in Detroit because he had such a great time in 2014 making wonderful culinary creations with the participants.

Audition Requirements – Culinary 2019

What are we looking for?

  • A passion for cooking
  • An interest in the global food market, grocery stores, and shopping
  • An appreciation for culinary arts, and what it takes to run a kitchen
  • A passion for trying different foods, for experimenting with different and challenging ingredients and for creating different dishes
  • Enthusiasm, curiosity about food and a desire to collaborate
  • Some prior experience in the kitchen with knives and other cooking techniques such as slicing, dicing, baking, etc. would be helpful.

Please answer the following questions in the text boxes provided on the application.

  1. Tell us briefly about your experiences with the culinary arts at home. Are you the family chef? A TV armchair creative chef who “competes” while watching Top Chef? A secret cook who experiments in the kitchen when no one is looking? How does food preparation play a role in your life?
  2. Talk us through your favorite dish to prepare. Why is it your favorite, and what do you wish to elicit in the person consuming the dish?
  3. Why do you want to participate in JCC Maccabi ArtsFest?
  4. Anything else you would like us to know about you and your interest and skills in the culinary arts?

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