A chef with more than 30 years of experience in private sector restaurants and public school instruction is the new head of culinary arts at Mansfield Senior High School.
“I really try to get the lightbulb to come on in a student’s mind,” said Thomas Blike, “then help to create with them a passion for cooking and culinary arts. “If I can instill curiosity then it becomes very easy to teach.”
Blike (rhymes with like) comes to Senior High from the Canton Local School District where he was culinary arts instructor since 1993. He succeeds Linda Golden who retired. Blike directed the student-run Wildcat Café at Canton South High School, which was featured on the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible in 2011. But when a new South High School opened this year the culinary arts program was moved to another high school in the four-school career tech consortium known as South Stark Career Academy.
“Unfortunately, my program was canceled, but I am very pleased to be in Mansfield. I am really excited about the opportunity here,” Blike said. “The staff and students have been very welcoming.”
Chef Ed Golden will continue in his role as culinary arts assistant. “I am delighted to have a person of Ed’s experience,” Blike said. “It feels like I have worked with him for years although it has been only a couple of weeks.”
Senior High’s culinary arts program has 34 juniors and seniors enrolled.
Blike hopes to have the Cub Room Restaurant open by mid-September for sit-down lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Tyger Market Café soon will offer a carryout menu on Mondays. Students will continue to provide catering service. They recently baked cookies for the Booster Club.
“I want to do other things too,” Blike said. “We will try some ice carvings this year and bake tortes, which are rich upscale multi-layer cakes. I also would like to create some new culinary competitions.”
The in-house holiday gingerbread competition introduced by Linda Golden will continue.
Blike earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Michigan State University, majoring in hotel, restaurant and institutional management. He then received an associate’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., and licensure certification for career tech instruction from Kent State University. He was involved in private restaurant management in northern Ohio for several years before beginning his 24-year tenure with Canton Local Schools.
Blike said students from his Canton program continued their culinary education at Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky.; Columbus Culinary Institute; Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, and the Culinary Institute of America in New York. “Again, my goal is to create culinary excitement and passion among students,” he said. “It is exciting for me when a student comes in and asks, ‘What can we make today?’”
Source, Photo: Mansfield City Schools