MEXICO — Culinary arts students at the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation (CiTi) recently learned a valuable lesson from guest speaker Chef Aaron Oster: the food industry is more about relationships with people.
Oster participated in virtual visits via Zoom video chats with several of the Career and Technical Education students who gathered information about working in the food and hospitality industry, including opening a business. One of the most impactful lessons Oster offered was his business’ focus on hiring people for their drive, integrity and work ethic over a plethora of industry experiences.
“This is a business of people who enjoy being in the service of others,” he said. “If you bring good energy in the business, then I want you in our business. You’d be surprised what a smile and a good attitude can do for a business; it completely changes the space.”
Students asked Oster questions, such as how he got into running his own barbecue restaurant, A-OK Berkshire Barbecue in North Adams, Mass., why he chose the location he did, how social media has influenced the business and how he grew in the industry. He began as a dishwasher and worked his way up to become a cook.
Oster taught the culinary arts students that his successes have come from thinking outside the box. Being different has made the establishment stand out with its quick service, no indoor seating, a limited schedule and the creation of his own versions of barbecue.
Oster’s virtual connections were made possible by CiTi’s Distance Learning program connections.