Faculty spotlight: Bidwell Training Center Culinary Arts Program Director Chef Anthony Taglieri
November 13, 2020 12:00 pm
Anthony Taglieri was introduced to home cooking at an early age. Coming from humble
beginnings, he remembers watching his grandma magically whip up gourmet dishes for him
and his two siblings.
As a teenager, Anthony worked as a dishwasher. There he observed the work of the chefs
around him and became in awe of the professional aspect of the culinary industry.
Driven by his ambitious spirt and desire to make a mark in the industry, Anthony traveled
the world, diversifying his palette and skill set. Now, as the Culinary Arts Program Director
for Bidwell Training Center, Chef Anthony shares his personal experiences with his students,
inspires them to unlock their creativity and embark on their own culinary journeys.
“We talk about the importance of being observant and mindful of others and all of what
makes up a good boss or chef,” says Chef Anthony, “I tell them they’re the force that’s
going to change the world.”
In early January, Chef Anthony accepted a job at Bidwell Training Center (BTC) as a
chef instructor, but his talent, creativity and innovative mindset quickly aided him in becoming
the director of BTC’s culinary arts program, only a few months later in March.
His leadership has contributed to the recent transformation of BTC’s culinary arts department and development of new procedures and projects.
The Thanksgiving Take-Home Box Initiative
Chef Anthony is the driving force behind BTC’s first annual Thanksgiving Take-Home Box initiative, of which proceeds will go to the school’s culinary arts department.
“Thanksgiving is the food holiday,” he says, “If you’re going to have this food holiday and bring everyone together, than you must have a good turkey!”
He says most people state that their turkey is dry or under-seasoned and he explains the reasoning behind this is due to the method in which the turkey is cooked in the oven and under-salting.
“Most people have that picture-perfect image of what a turkey is supposed to look like – legs tied, with or without stuffing inside of it and some sort of green garnish around it – but that’s not the proper way to cook a turkey,” says Chef Anthony.
The turkey that is included in the Thanksgiving Take-Home boxes will be prepared using Chef Anthony’s expertly recommended salting and cooking methods. Specifically, the turkey will be butterflied with its bones removed to ensure that every part of the turkey is cooked at the same rate. The turkey will also be salted in a wet brine a few days before the boxes will be distributed, so that the meat will be tender and seasoned all the way through.
“I really want to show my students and the people who purchase the boxes that it’s great to paint outside of the lines and get their creative juices flowing with new cooking methods,” says Chef Anthony.
New Operational Procedures
BTC was one of the first schools in the Pittsburgh region to resume in-person operations since the three-month quarantine due to COVID-19. With that, Chef Anthony says there wasn’t much general guidance released on what to do in a cafeteria setting like the one that exists in BTC.
“We became trailblazers and started to create personal box lunches for our employees and students and we also limited the dining room occupancy,” says Chef Anthony.
The culinary department also began to limit their dining options to just one kind of meal. Pre-COVID 19, BTC offered several entrée options. Chef Anthony doesn’t view the new change in a negative light. Instead, he views it has a tremendous learning opportunity for his students.
“The students are now learning proper portion size for the average human’s consumption,” he says.
Along with the adjustment in portion sizes, Chef Anthony says that his students have also started to learn more about the nutritional value of the dishes they create, ultimately enabling students to create both healthy and rich, appetizing dishes.
“Our students create their own nutritional labels and fact sheets that list all of the ingredients used in their dish,” says Chef Anthony.
Students are also learning to create vegan and gluten-free meals as well as the impact agricultural production has on our environment.
“I love that Bidwell allows me to take my own experiences and figure out how to make culinary instruction different for my students,” says Chef Anthony, “It’s extremely exciting and rewarding to work here.”
Several updates are also planned for the future, including adjustments to class sizes, the diploma program and a complete renovation of the culinary art department’s kitchen.
Chef Anthony and BTC strongly encourage the public to stay tuned for official announcements of their new endeavors in the new year.