“You need to know a little bit about everything,” says Jimi Webb who is the Operations Director of The Hospitality Learning Center, which focuses on teaching students about food, hotels, travel, and restaurants. The state of the art, green and energy-efficient building is an LEED gold certified center which means that they recycle and help the environment. Students at Metro take courses at the Learning Center to earn about culinary studies.
On July 21, 2016, the Night Owls went to the center to learn about the purpose of the place and to interview Webb, the Operations Director. The building includes a sensory analysis room, which is focused on deciphering how different ways of cooking food affects the flavor, smell, and etc. Also, the students taking this course learn about cross-contaminants or bacteria like Salmonella that is passed from food to food and even “ready to eat food.” Thus, the area was very clean and contemporary.
Other rooms that are used often by Metro Students are the quantity food lab and culinary room where students can learn by doing and get graded on presentation and taste of their food. The center also had a restaurant named Degree, which served some of the food made by the students. The last room we saw was the demonstration room where Webb was interviewed.
Webb was born in Northern California in 1984, but he relocated to Colorado at age 4. When Webb was 14, he started washing dishes, and his career launched from there. He went to Metropolitan University and took the culinary classes that he helps out with occasionally. After getting a culinary degree, he went on to become a sous chef and then a private chef in Louisiana. All the while, Webb kept volunteering in the culinary industry and heard that there was a position open at the Hospitality Learning Center, so he moved back to Colorado and took the job at age 26.Webb states, “I got the job because of good networking skills, and I volunteered for events.”
Webb was inspired to work in education and urban agriculture. Now Webb coordinates classes, purchases food and equipment, talks to facilities, and does accounting. He especially enjoys helping cook in big events and likes working with students. Webb has been working at the center for 5 years and gives the advice, “Always strive to be better, nothing is ever perfect and there is always room for improvement.”