Chef Rudi Eichler Talks About Baking and Teaching with

Chef Rudi Eichler is a pastry and baking professor at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN), which has a top-rated culinary arts program. recently caught up with him to learn more about his baking career and the expertise he brings to the classroom.

By Megan Driscoll

Chef Rudi Eichler College of Southern Nevada CSN You originally studied the culinary arts in Germany, your native country. What was that educational program like and how does it differ from the programs you've encountered in the U.S.?

Chef Rudi Eichler: I received my Master Diploma in Professional Baking and my Certificate in Professional Pastry in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. I also studied at the prestigious European hotel management and culinary school, Hotelfachschule, in Bad Reichenhall, Germany.

In Germany, public baking and pastry programs are very intense and very well thought out and executed. The baking and pastry programs are a 3-year curriculum made up of one year of schooling and two years of practical work in an actual bakeshop. The educator in the practical segment in the bakeshop has to be a master baker or master pastry chef, no exceptions. Afterwards, you have an overall picture of how a bakeshop operates and works.

In the United States, the public (not private) educational programs that I've seen and experienced are much more relaxed and don't include all the segments that are taught in Germany. What was your professional experience in the culinary arts before you started teaching?

RE: After my education, I worked in various bakeshops and owned and operated a restaurant, bakery and pastry shop in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1976, I moved to the United States and worked at various establishments throughout the country, including the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Hotel Eden Rock in Miami, Florida and the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. What is your culinary specialty, both as a chef and as an instructor?

RE: My specialties, both as a chef and as an instructor, are European pastries, breads and cakes. What brought you to the U.S. and how did you come to teach at the College of Southern Nevada?

RE: I was encouraged by a close friend to come to the United States.

After 20 years of working at the Las Vegas Hilton, I had an offer to teach baking and pastries at the College of Southern Nevada. I thought it was time to give back all the knowledge I had accumulated over the years to students. What courses do you teach at CSN?

RE: Principles of Baking, Advanced Baking, Breads of the Worlds, Pastry Arts, Plated Desserts, Cakes and Advanced Cake Classes. What do you find most rewarding about teaching? Most challenging?

RE: The most rewarding thing about teaching baking is showing students how to be successful in the baking and pastry industry. The most challenging thing is forming a successful learning environment for students of many different nationalities, cultures, languages and age groups. What advice would you give to a person who is considering a career in the culinary arts?

RE: Make sure you really want to pursue a career of culinary arts because it involves hard work, long hours, lots of repetition, odd work schedules, having to work most holidays, flexibility, love of food and most importantly, loving what you're doing. Nevertheless, in the end, it is all rewarding!

Be persistent and never, ever give up, no matter how difficult and challenging the circumstances. What is the most important thing a prospective student should know before joining the culinary arts program at CSN?

RE: Students will gain the most by dedicating enough time to attend classes regularly, never missing classes, making time to study and doing their homework. Finally, I'd like to offer you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about your career as a chef and your work as an instructor at CSN.

RE: As a chef, I love that I am creating and designing baked goods and pastries that are not only pleasing to the eye, but that everybody loves to eat.

As an instructor, it is very rewarding when I see students obtain their first job in the bakeshop, or succeed in the business, and come back to express appreciation for what they have learned from me.

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