- Published on Friday, 27 March 2015 15:35
- Written by Press Release
Dennis "Doc" Cain and his family have been influential in shaping the dining habits of Cape Girardeau residents for decades, but his ability as an educator makes him a real champion of the industry and has earned him a 2015 ProStart® National Educator of Excellence Award.
As a ProStart instructor at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technical Center, Cain has led hundreds of high school students from across the region to seek advanced culinary education and careers in the restaurant industry.
His dedication to his students is evidenced by the number of those who contact him after graduation to let him know the impact he made on their career or culinary training. Cain says his greatest joy comes from those moments when he gets feedback from former students out of the blue. One such student, a recent Le Cordon Bleu graduate, showed up one day at his classroom in full uniform to say hello. Cain regularly receives emails from former students thanking him for the rigorous training that proved invaluable as they entered culinary school, giving them a leg up.
The award, given to ProStart educators demonstrating a strong commitment to his or her students and the ProStart program, is granted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and sponsored by Brinker International. ProStart is a national two-year, industry-driven curriculum that provides training in culinary techniques and management skills and provides students the opportunity to compete for scholarships. The program also offers an industry-recognized certification, the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement, which can be obtained by mastering 52 competencies and completing 400 hours of on-the-job training. In 2014, Cain had seven students achieve this certification making an impressive addition to their resumes for a future in foodservice.
Recognizing the importance of hands-on training, Cain opened CTC (Culinary Tasting Center), a student-operated restaurant at the career center that is open to the public three days each week. "Opening the CTC gave the students ownership in the program and by utilizing the ProStart curriculum, it enabled me to guide them in the complete business model," said Cain.
Students operate in teams and rotate from front-of-the-house stations to various back-of-the-house operations such as line cook and prep cook. CTC allows students to gain practical training and affords the business community and potential future employers an opportunity to experience their talents first-hand.
Cain is an active member of the Missouri Restaurant Association as the owner of the historic restaurant and lounge, Port Cape Girardeau, and CQ. He has also served as the former Southeast Missouri Chapter president, is a former MRA board member and was twice chosen Restaurateur of the Year.
According to Cain's former student Lindsey Whitener, "He would push us to achieve what we thought we couldn't, and when we succeeded, he was the first to tell us how proud he was. Mr. Cain truly is dedicated to helping students who wish to pursue a career in the culinary arts. He truly deserves this Educator of Excellence Award."