The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Expressions Breaks Down the Culinary World With Chef Jaggers.


San Luis Obispo High School’s finest culinary teacher. Photo courtesy of Alma Tinoco.

  San Luis Obispo High School is fortunate enough to have an excellent culinary program, which is a staple to the elective choices offered to students at SLOHS. Many students at SLOHS have taken a course led by Culinary Arts teacher Nathan Jaggers. Expressions took a moment to ask Chef Jaggers about his experiences and thoughts about the culinary world relating to SLOHS. 

Expressions: What is your culinary background?

Culinary Arts teacher Nathan Jaggers: I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, which is a culinary school. I was trained in French culinary technique and got my culinary degree from there, so I have a degree in what you might call savory cooking. I then went to work in fine dining in Los Angeles, at one of the fine dining restaurants for a great chef who was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, probably the best culinary institution in the United States today. I worked my way up from being a butcher in a restaurant, to becoming a prep chef, where I prepped all the vegetables and different things that had to be done on a daily basis to be then working my way up through the brigade system. I stopped in that organization when I became a sous chef. Then I became an executive chef for a large corporation that owns 57 different luxury retirement apartments, complexes and assisted living. I was responsible for creating all the menus for assisted living people, who were retired and had a large variety of health concerns. I also ran a program for a Los Angeles gourmet food outlet, I was a resident chef and would teach cooking lessons there. So that’s what I did for a number of years as my professional career.

Expressions: Do you think the curriculum at SLOHS teaches students how to properly handle food in the kitchen in a manner that ensures the health of those in and outside the kitchen?

Jaggers: I do believe that we teach everybody about sanitation. We teach everybody about how to handle food properly. We do ask all students today to get their safe food handling certificates, and we provide that opportunity here at SLOHS. 

Expressions: Do you think the food prepared in culinary teaches students about different food groups and the nutritional value of the ingredients used in preparing different dishes?

Jaggers: while we don’t have an emphasis on nutrition, and there are programs that could be implemented here, like a nutrition program where students could really dial in all the calories, all the sugars, all the nutritional elements of food. I do think what we tried to teach here is how to make things from scratch and fresh, which is always better than food that’s commercially prepared. From that point of view, it’s good. I think we do a good job of that. If you make your own food you will eat healthier for the rest of your life compared to buying it prepared and already made even in our grocery stores today. There’s a vast assortment of prepared foods frozen and in the deli counter, and they have those chemicals and preservatives in them. If you could make food from scratch, fresh without those things in, you’re gonna eat a much healthier diet for your entire life. So we do give you the foundation. We concentrate on food and how to make it from scratch.

Expressions: Do you think that learning proper cooking techniques improves the health of other people?

Jaggers: I absolutely believe that learning proper cooking techniques and cooking from scratch will improve your health for the rest of your life. Because again, you’re making things from scratch. You’re making it fresh. You’re using better ingredients and quality stuff than what commercial operators work with.

Expressions: Would you revise the curriculum in any manner to include or exclude any aspects of the culinary world?

Jaggers: I would like to expand the culinary curriculum. I would have liked to have a dedicated course for baking, making breads, pastries, and cakes. Cuesta College does that and we could align with their programs so students could get dual enrollment credit, like we do with our intermediate and advanced classes. I’d probably like to see if we could do a class just on sanitation and getting a food manager’s certificate. The emphasis there would be on really getting the scientific knowledge down for food safety. I’d like to see those two classes added to our program here, then I’d like to see an internship program for the students that complete the courses that we have here.

  The culinary route at SLOHS provides many future opportunities for students, and the program has a lot of potential to expand. Chef Jaggers’ expertise is a valuable asset to the culinary education of those here at SLOHS and students should take advantage of such a great opportunity to work with such an individual. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alma Tinoco, Feature Editor

Comments (0)

All Expressions Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *