"Life is good," Marcello Marino repeats enthusiastically. He is a chef-instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami, FL; one of the people responsible for the inaugural Spanish-language chef training program at Le Cordon Bleu Miami; and recipient of the Career College Association's 2009 Teacher of the Year award.
An alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu in Dover, New Hampshire, Chef Marino worked for a number of hotels and restaurants in Argentina, Brazil, and Miami, Florida before opening his own restaurant called Blue Latitudes in Dover, New Hampshire. However, in 2006 an illness in his left eye left him unable to continue as a full-time chef. Someone suggested that he try teaching and he hasn't looked back since.
Chef Marino says that he has always been drawn to French culinary methods and that his biggest influence has been Michel Guérard, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine in the 50’s and 60’s. He thought that teaching at Le Cordon Bleu was a natural for him with their emphasis on French techniques. And as a Le Cordon Bleu graduate himself, he says that he was able to examine what he thought was missing during the time of his own culinary education and work to provide that for his students.
His classes are dynamic and interactive and he ensures that his students understand each concept. He also works to infuse them with the passion he has for cooking.
"Becoming a chef is a long, hard walk," he says, "and you need to have the passion and the stamina for it."
He has been known to advise incoming students not to go through the program unless they're committed to it and ready to give 150%. This helps make those who decide to stick with the program even more dedicated to becoming a chef.
Apart from passion for the culinary arts and commitment to the profession, Chef Marino teaches a wide range of culinary techniques as well as confidence, discipline, professional behavior, time management, and customer service skills.
Chef Marino recognizes that hospitality and the culinary arts are customer service-oriented businesses and emphasizes that in his classes. "My students are my customers," he says, "and I take care of them as best as I can. That's my job."
He tries to serve as a role model and says that as long as he gives 150%, he knows he's on the right track.
His favorite classes include the restaurant class where students perfect mise-en-place skills and prepare meals for diners in the school's restaurant, the Foundations I class where he enjoys making sure that students have the necessary skills for a successful journey to become a chef, and the Cuisine across Cultures class where students learn to prepare cuisines from a variety of countries and continents.
Chef Marino believes that working in education is challenging and rewarding. He cherishes those moments when students will go up to him and say: "Thank you. Now I understand this."
In addition, he has been instrumental in the Spanish-language program at Le Cordon Bleu. The program began as a regular offering at the Miami school in 2008 and has been growing steadily since then. It combines Spanish-language instruction in culinary techniques with ESL classes to improve students’ English skills.
No matter what language Chef Marino finds himself teaching in, he encourages all of his students to be passionate about what they do.