Two Culinary Teachers Share Unusual Bond

Two Culinary Teachers Share Unusual Bond

Mother and daughter team-teach at Career Education Center

 

 

Deliese Nusser Deidre Stewart

Mother and daughter: Deliese Nusser (left) and Deidra Stewart

WFISD’s growing culinary program necessitated the hiring of a second teacher. But who could have guessed that the perfect addition would be the current teacher’s own daughter? Culinary teacher Deliese Nusser was delighted to learn that she would be team teaching with daughter Deidra Stewart, also a culinary teacher for the past 13 years.

For the past 27 years, Mrs. Nusser has been WFISD’s one and only culinary teacher. Her program, which was headquartered at Rider High School until the opening of the Career Education Center, dates back even to the days her daughter was a student and defiantly declared, “I’ll never be a teacher!”

Now that same daughter, who had a change of heart in college, has a husband, three children and 13 years logged as a culinary teacher in Burnet Consolidated ISD, Marshall ISD, Pine Tree ISD and Whitehouse ISD.

She also oversaw the start-up of a student restaurant, “The Catch,” that has been not only been a raving success but has expanded to 17 locations and is still growing.

Now, the two women are embarking on a full schedule of teaching, a calendar of catering events, competitions and certifications, and the ultimate: running a real restaurant.

So how’s it going? Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich visited Chefs Nusser and Stewart as the school year was just revving up in their restaurant-styled kitchen.

 

What’s it like to work with your daughter?

Mrs. Nusser: I’m very blessed that they chose her. I had her in class at Rider High School. She always told me, “I never want to be a teacher!” In college, she switched majors. One day she told me, “Guess what I’m going to do?” (Go into education.)  I just laughed. She’s a people person. I knew she would be fantastic.

 

Q: Deidra, after getting your degree at University of Central Oklahoma in Edmund, you went on to teach culinary in Burnet Consolidated ISD, Marshall ISD and to open a new culinary facility in Pine Tree ISD in Longview, Texas. You also taught culinary for nine years at Whitehouse ISD near Tyler, overseeing the start-up of a student restaurant. How do you foresee bringing some of that experience into the WFISD program?

 

Mrs. Stewart: We will be doing more catering. I’m very comfortable with that. We will also be doing a lot of competition. In the past, my students have won at state and national competitions. I can bring that experience to the program. As you mentioned, in East Texas, my students started a restaurant that is now in 17 locations and growing. I will bring that restaurant concept here.

I can’t take my mom to Walmart (because she’s so well known in the community). She’s the face of the program. Not only is she a great culinary educator, she’s a great educator, period. However, I can bring in the more modern aspects of the field. We are introducing Google, more technology, and things like molecular gastronomy.

 

Mrs. Nusser: She will also be taking them to competitions.

Mrs. Stewart: Which I expect to win. The students know it. These kids are awesome.  They want to learn. I can teach anybody as long as they want to learn. I think you’ve got to be personable and build a relationship with them. And show them how this is going to benefit them. We have a very selfish society. So show them what’s in it for them. When you come to culinary, you’re going to run a restaurant. It’s not me telling you what to do. No, you’re making the decisions. When you get to college, you’re going to say, “I did that.”

 

Q: You’re well known in the world of culinary competitions.

Mrs. Stewart: The colleges also know me around here because of the competitions. So far, I’ve helped students earn almost $500,000 in scholarships for Johnson and Wells University. Those students are going to Johnson and Wells University, a four-year university in culinary arts, pastry and baking. And educators there say, “Oh, you mentored under Chef Stewart?” And they will give them college credits for their high school work because they know my students have already passed a certain level of accomplishment. I have a student who owns his own bakery, has been on Food Network several times and has won Cupcake Wars, Cake Wars AND the Cookie Wars. He owns his own bakery in East Texas, and it is unbelievable.

Mrs. Nusser: So, she’s very qualified.

Q: What’s it been like to work together?

Mrs. Stewart: Busy!

Q: Do you talk about anything besides cooking when you are together after hours?

Mrs. Stewart: The beginning of school is just crazy and hectic anyway. Then when you throw in new things like Google, the Chromebook, and how are we going to do that in the kitchen? But we’re figuring it out. We’re learning.

We share lesson plans so we make sure they’re all getting the same instruction. We also leave work at work. So when we have our Sunday night dinners with our family and our grandbabies are sitting around, and the chaos is all there, it’s about them. It’s not about work.

Mrs. Nusser: I’m Grandma. And I love it.

Q: Have you disagreed about anything and had to work through it?

Mrs. Nusser: I haven’t found anything that we really disagree about.

Mrs. Stewart: Because we’re different, she may approach something one way and I would do it another. For example, cell phones. She may say, “Guys, we’re not having cell phones. Put your cell phones up.” And she may give them two to three warnings. I’m like, “No. Give it to me.”

Mrs. Nusser: We will compromise. That’s one of the things I love about it. She tells them her view, and I tell them mine.

Mrs. Stewart: I’m a lot like my dad. I think that’s why we work together so well. Because she’s still with him, 36 years!

Mrs. Nusser: I tell you, I’m blessed.