Training Curriculum

Culinary Communication 101 is dedicated to providing chefs, mixologists and other Food & Beverage professionals with the best tools for making a media appearance. We teach clients how to translate their passion about food and drink to TV and radio – explaining the choreography of a media appearance through communication, conversation and rapport. Classes – generally six to eight hours in duration – are conducted at the client’s kitchen, conference room or business, using their pantry.

Training Session Format

• An initial presentation and interactive lecture by the trainer with tips about choreography and food fluency; how to show the order of the recipe, talk about the ingredients as you prepare them, cook and have one dish finished on-air to feed the host
• Video demonstrations of good and bad on-camera habits by watching actual air checks
• Hands-on practice while being interviewed on camera by the trainer with additional “takes” to refine delivery
• Constructive performance critiques
• Guidelines about media appearance logistics – when to arrive, what to bring, questions to ask the producer, following up, and receiving air checks

Media Training

Training Session Topics

• How to prepare for TV appearances via recipe selection and prep lists
• How to clearly and effectively communicate your message on camera
• An inside perspective about the needs of TV and radio producers, as well as newspaper and magazine editors
• How to take control and confidently handle difficult questions in a live or taped situation
• Translating answers into powerful images for the television and radio audience
• How to cook and speak simultaneously
• How to tailor your message to a specific medium
• The secret of effective media appearances: the art of food fluency – that is, using
descriptive words about food that engage an audience


• Upload copy of the client’s best on-camera “take,” so that prospective TV producers can easily view their performance
• Full summary report by trainer, including progress made, and recommendations for further improvement


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is Culinary Communication 101 different from other media training curriculums?

A: Culinary Communication 101 is different because we understand and teach food fluency; we also know how the media works – from an insider’s perspective. Steve Dolinsky, Founder of Culinary Communication 101, speaks consistently within the industry as a uniquely qualified expert on the relationship between broadcasters, restaurateurs and publicists. He understands food fluency, chefs and all media platforms (print, TV and radio).

Q: What is food fluency?

A: Culinary Communication 101 believes the secret of effective media appearances is in the art of food fluency – that is, using descriptive words about food that engage a viewing audience. Food fluency helps chefs uniquely engage their viewing or listening audiences and delights producers and editors.

Q: Isn’t media training time intensive and expensive?

A: Unlike other media trainers, Culinary Communication 101 charges a simple daily rate plus travel expenses, and will conduct the training at a location you choose, such as your restaurant or home. Culinary Communication 101 is cost-effective because we come to you and use what you have in your pantry; there aren’t any disguised costs associated with your training.

Q: Why does Culinary Communication 101 just train one person at a time?

A: Culinary Communication 101 allows media training for more than one person for cost efficiency, however it is not recommended. We believe personalized, one-on-one training allows for much more dramatic learning.

Q: Can Culinary Communication 101 train chefs/cookbook authors if Steve is a member of the working press?

A: CC101’s Founder, Steve Dolinsky, is uniquely qualified to serve his clients because he is the only food media trainer in the country who has extensive food media experience. With this background, he is able to teach chefs and other food & beverage professionals not only how to achieve their goals with the media, but also what producers expect from guests and how to continue appearing on their shows. The only stipulation is that since Steve currently covers the food industry in Chicago, he cannot train chefs or businesses that are based there.

When TV beckons, where do chefs go for a hand? For starters, there’s Culinary Communication 101


By Jane Ganahl
May 4, 2005

Michelle Mah, the executive chef of Ponzu, watches a video on a small computer screen, arms folded, lips pursed, studying intently. The just- taped segment features Mah’s colleague, Melissa Perello of Fifth Floor, as she plays Julia Child for a TV audience, whipping up a dish with fiddlehead ferns.

“Good, she mentions the restaurant’s name,” says Steve Dolinsky, the segment’s producer, watching with Mah. “Good, she names possible substitutes for ingredients.”
“She seems so at ease!” interjects Mah, fretting a bit.
“That’s because she had excellent training this morning,” smiles Dolinsky, who spent the first part of the day in a meeting room of the ritzy Hotel Monaco in Union Square, teaching a seminar called Culinary Communication 101 to a room full of restaurant professionals. Dolinsky, who hails from Chicago, has won 10 James Beard awards for his TV and radio food reporting, and has parlayed that into a consulting gig for chefs with TV aspirations. He already spent an hour with Perello, drilling her in the rigors of on-air cooking, and the tape is the proud result.

Now it’s Mah’s turn.
She is clearly nervous. The 30-year-old, recently named by The Chronicle as “a chef to watch,” lays out the ingredients for her dish, a tiger prawn roll with mango and herbs. Dressed in her chef’s whites, name emblazoned on her coat, Mah looks every bit the experienced chef — but fusses incessantly with her bangs, which fall across her eyes in an unruly curtain.
“Do you have anything to pin those back with?” asks Dolinsky. She blushes, answers no. He advises her to powder, and she worries she will “break out in zits.” No, laughs Dolinsky, “that’s my job.”
In the first run-through with camera rolling, Dolinsky plays the role of a TV personality interacting with a chef, much as occurs on hundreds of talk shows around the country.
“So what is it you’re making for us today?” he asks cheerfully.
“Tiger prawn salad rolls,” she responds, smiling. “They’re great for picnics … and in summer, and for happy hour. … ”
She puts her hand to her mouth and giggles. “Wait! No …” Dolinsky interrupts.
“What kinds of greens are you using?”
“I’m using fresh basil and mint,” she says, suddenly calm and all business. “But you can use pretty much any kind of greens from the store.”
She lays out the ingredients on the moistened rice paper, and Dolinsky does the same, echoing her movements. There is a moment of silence — a TV no-no.
“These are typical herbs of Vietnamese cooking, aren’t they?” he asks.
“Yes, you can get them on the street.”
“Here in San Francisco?”
“Oh … no, in Vietnam,” she stammers.
The segment goes over its prescribed 3 1/2 minutes. He does not critique it, saying it was just a first run-through, but he does try to bolster her confidence.
“You are very good on camera — very cute!” he enthuses, and Mah smiles. “But you can be a little more confident. Try ending with ‘come see us at Ponzu’ and ‘I hope you enjoyed it!’ ”
Mah sighs. “I’m just a terrible public speaker.”
Dolinsky does not respond. “And take charge this time; I am not going to ask you so many questions. Keep talking as you cook!”

The second run-through is better. Mah is not as hesitant, and instead of waiting for Dolinsky to ask her questions, she talks more consistently. “This is a dish you find in Vietnam,” and such. When they are finished, and come in at less than three minutes, Dolinsky is all smiles as they watch the playback tape.
“That was much better, don’t you think?”
Mah frowns. “Maybe a little … ”
“I will say your energy is a little flat still,” he says, and she nods. “Your personality has more gusto.”
She sighs and shrugs, and he pats her shoulder. “I do think we are just one take from nailing this.”

On the third and final taping, Mah, if still a bit shy, smiles much more broadly and prepares the prawn rolls with much more authority. “Try them,” she says, smiling and, offering Dolinsky the plate of rolls, which are beautiful in their composition and color combination. He chomps eagerly into one.
“Oh my! So many great flavors!” he enthuses.

This time, watching the playback, Mah grins. She is joined by Fabrice Roux, executive chef of the Grand Cafe upstairs, where Mah was recently sous chef before coming to Ponzu. He puts his arm around her shoulder and they watch together. “She is very good, yes?” he says enthusiastically to Dolinsky.  Dolinsky responds. “Yes, she’ll be great. She just needs more confidence. But she is very cute.”
When Mah grimaces, he adds, “Hey, TV is a very visual medium. Good looks can’t hurt.”

Roux dashes off to get his ingredients; he is next for the taping ordeal. While Mah packs up her ingredients, she chatters cheerfully about bringing the Korean food of her youth to the kitchen at Ponzu. “I don’t even try to make kim chee; I leave that to my mother.”
She thanks Dolinsky profusely and takes her leave. Dolinsky sighs, starting to show fatigue from the long day. “When I get back to Chicago, I’ll burn her a CD of her performance that she can send to local producers,” he says, brightening. “She’s not ready for food channel, but maybe someday after she gets her act down.”


What Our Clients Are Saying…

“When I arrived at my session and shook hands with Steve, I realized I had seen him moderate an intense discussion with several chefs in Aspen the year before.  I knew immediately I was in for a treat.  Steve very clearly outlined how to prepare for successful television and radio appearances and presentations.  Within a few hours I was able to understand how to streamline my mis en place, communication style and relax in front of the camera and with a host.  At the end of the session I felt that I was just getting warmed up and was excited for more!”
-Jenn Louis, Executive Chef/Co-owner Lincoln Restaurant, Sunshine Tavern and Culinary Artistry, Portland, OR


“This wasn’t just a media training class, it’s a university. Working with Steve brought out my inner confidence to take media appearances by the horns and go for it. Excited to take what I’ve learned and use it to build my business/brand out there”
– Erwin Tjahyadi, Executive Chef/Co-owner Komodo, Los Angeles, CA


“Steve’s insider tips are timeless and relevant across all mediums. His ‘foodie cred’, relatable delivery and results-oriented approach were a perfect fit for our culinary professionals.”
– Charlee WilliamsonEVP, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, New Orleans, LA


“During Steve’s training session, it became quickly apparent that he was a polished professional who knew the media business. His training techniques really demonstrated simply and effectively how to be comfortable and make an impact in front of the camera.”
– Tom Meade, Executive Chef, SBC Center, San Antonio, TX


“After spending time with Steve, I felt like I definitely had more tools that would allow me to ace my next television appearance. Luckily, it didn’t take long to have an opportunity to try them out. I followed Steve’s recipe for success and made it my own. Without a doubt, I was definitely a better guest chef after having undergone media training with Steve Dolinsky. I’m already looking forward to my next call from a television producer to have another chance to demonstrate all I learned from Steve!”
– Andrew Dornenburg, Chef & Author of: Becoming A Chef, Culinary Artistry, Dining Out, Chef’s Night Out and The New American Chef


“I found Steve’s media training sessions to be very energetic and informative. The training helped me fill in many of the gaps when being interviewed: where to stand, where to look, what to do if the interview is cut short, and how to be prepared for the unknown. Overall, it gave me a much better understanding of what an Interviewer/Producer actually wants me cover in a three-and- half-minute cooking demonstration, and how to pull it off looking like a pro.”
– Chandon Clenard, former Executive Chef, Blue Mermaid Chowder House, San Francisco; currently Director of Food and Beverage, O & S Holdings


“I loved the media training and thought Steve was great…wished that I had this three years ago. Very informative. Thanks very much!”
– Sharyl Seim, Executive Chef, Kuleto’s Italian Restaurant, San Francisco


“I think Steve did a wonderful job of giving us insight into both good and bad chef presentations, what the studios do and how to be better prepared. It’s a good class for all chefs before they do any on-the-air cooking.”
– Rhonda Marion, General Manager, Park Place, Cupertino, CA


Partial Client List

Gilles Arzur
Chef, Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire
Beverly Hills, CA

Akira Back
Executive Chef, Yellowtail
Las Vegas, NV

Todd Baggett
Executive Chef, Wolfgang Puck Cafe
Orlando, FL

Paul Bartolotta
Executive Chef, Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare
Wynn Las Vegas

William Bradley
Executive Chef, Addison
The Grand Del Mar
San Diego, CA

Brett Breaux
Sous Chef, The Windsor Court
New Orleans, LA

Bill Brodsky
Executive Chef, The Wequassett Inn
Cape Cod, MA

James Boyce
Executive Chef, Studio
Montage Resort & Spa
Laguna Beach, CA

Richard Brandenburg
Chef, Urbana
Washington D.C.

Richard Chen
Executive Chef, Wing Lei
Wynn Las Vegas

Chandon Clenard
Executive Chef, Blue Mermaid Chowder House
San Francisco

The Charlie Palmer Group
Management, Executive Staff
The Charlie Palmer Hotel
Las Vegas

Lynn Crawford
Executive Chef
Four Seasons Hotel – Toronto

John Cuevas
Executive Chef, The Loft
Montage Resort & Spa
Laguna Beach, CA

The Culinary Institute of America
Greystone, CA – 4 chef-instructors
Hyde Park, NY – 15 chef-instructors

Andrew Dornenburg

Private Chef and Co-Author, “Becoming A Chef,” “Culinary Artistry,”
“Dining Out,” “Chef’s Night Out,” “The New American Chef”

Thomas Dunklin
Red Star Tavern
Portland, OR

John Eisenhart
Chef, Pazzo
Portland, OR

Tom Fleming
Chef, Central 214
Dallas, TX

Dominique Ferchaud
Pastry Chef, Grand Hotel Europe
St. Petersburg, Russia

Hiroyuki Fujino
Sushi Chef, Wolfgang Puck Cafe
Orlando, FL

Marian Getz
Pastry Chef, Wolfgang Puck Cafe
Orlando, FL

Guillermo Gomez
Executive Chef, Maroma Resort & Spa
Riviera Maya, Mexico

John Greeley
Executive Chef, “21” Club
New York City

Jonathan Gushue
Executive Chef, Langdon Hall
Cambridge, Ontario (Canada)

Avi Haksar
Beverage Manager
MGM Grand Hotel
Las Vegas, NV

Craig Hartman
Executive Chef, Keswick Hall
Charlottesville, VA

Martin Heierling
Executive Chef, Sensi
Las Vegas, NV

Christopher House
Executive Chef, Diego
MGM Grand
Las Vegas, NV

Hisham Johari
Executive Chef, Red 8 Asian Bistro
Wynn Las Vegas

Lee Jones
Owner, The Chef’s Garden
Huron, OH

Stephen Kalt
Executive Chef, Corsa Cucina
Wynn Las Vegas

Austin Kirzner
Executive Chef, Redfish Grill
New Orleans, LA

Eric Klein
Executive Chef, SW Steakhouse
Wynn Las Vegas

Wayne Kozinko
Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Hotel

Gabriel Kreuther
Chef/Owner, Gabriel Kreuther
New York City

Drew Levinson
Beverage Director, Bellagio
Las Vegas, NV

Mark LoRusso
Executive Chef, Botero
Las Vegas, NV

Jenn Louis
Lincoln Restaurant & Sunshine Tavern
Portland, OR

Tim Love
Chef/Owner, The Lonesome Dove & Love Shack
Ft. Worth, TX

Grant Macdonald
Executive Chef, YEW
Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver

Michelle Mah
Executive Chef, Ponzu
San Francisco

Ian Mancais
Execuitve Chef, Mount Nelson Resort
South Africa

Gonzalo Martinez
Executive Chef, Casa de Sierra Nevada
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Brian Massey
Executive Chef
The Light Group
Las Vegas, NV

Jean-Philippe Maury
Jean Philippe Patisserie
Las Vegas, NV

The Orient Express Hotel Group
Various locations worldwide

Michael Paley
Executive Chef, Proof on Main
21c Hotel Museum
Louisville, KY

Melissa Perello
Executive Chef, Fifth Floor
San Francisco

Marc Poidevin
Executive Chef, Switch
Las Vegas, NV

Nathan Powers
Chef, Bambara
Boston, MA

Deden Putra
Executive Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire
Beverly Hills, CA

Patricia Richards
Mixologist, Encore and Wynn
Las Vegas, NV

Philippe Rispoli
Executive Chef, Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Wynn Las Vegas

Frederic Robert
Executive Pastry Chef, Wynn Las Vegas

Jesse Rodriguez
Wine Director
The Grand Del Mar
San Diego, CA

Fabrice Roux
Executive Chef, Grand Cafe
San Francisco

Slade Rushing
Executive Chef, Brennan’s
New Orleans, LA

Mark Salter
Executive Chef, Inn at Perry Cabin
St. Michaels, MD

Daniel Schaffhauser
Chef, Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire
Beverly Hills, CA

Kristen Schaefer
Brand Ambassador
Absolut Vodka
Las Vegas

Alex Stratta
Executive Chef, Alex
Wynn Las Vegas

Robert Surles, aka “Chef Bobo”
Executive Chef, The Calhoun School, NYC
Author, “Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook”
(Meredith Publishing)

Eric Swanson
Sake Sommelier, Shibuya
MGM Grand
Las Vegas, NV

Claudio Urciuoli
Scottsdale, AZ

Joel Versola
Executive Chef, Shintaro
Las Vegas, NV

Robert Weland
Washington D.C.

Kirsten West
Culinary Director
Sazon Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Hugh Whitehouse
Executive Chef
Lilianfels Resort & Spa
Blue Mountains, Australia

Edmund Wong
Executive Sous Chef, Bellagio Resort
Las Vegas, NV


Watch below to see the finished demo of Craig Hartman, Exec. Chef of Keswick Hall Club & Estate in Charlottesville, VA, after a day of media training.

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