Monday – September 01, 2014

 

Culinary Apprentice Graduate Enjoyed Her Turn in 'Hell's Kitchen'

September 2009

Suzanne Schlicht will be appearing at MATC's 2010 Five Star Food & Wine Evening on Monday, March 8. For event details, visit http://fivestar.matc.edu/

Milwaukee Area Technical College 2005 culinary apprentice graduate Suzanne Schlicht revels in the heat, controlled chaos and teamwork of a restaurant kitchen. She can also stand the pressures of reality television.

Schlicht was chosen as one of 16 contestants for the sixth season of "Hell's Kitchen" on Fox-TV (WITI TV-6 in Milwaukee), which began July 21. The show pits chefs and cooks of all stripes in competition. Exacting chef Gordon Ramsey puts the group through weekly culinary challenges. Per the well-known reality show formula, one contestant is forced to leave the show at the end of each episode, largely based on performance. Schlicht was among the last five contestants before being eliminated on the Sept. 29 episode.

The eventual winner will earn a prestigious head chef position. The exposure and notoriety are a residual benefit for all contestants - especially the few finalists. Schlicht stopped by her alma mater after her "Hell's Kitchen" debut. All the segments were taped by then and she revealed nothing of how she ultimately fared. Schlicht has already "won" by being selected from among 10,000 who initially auditioned from around the country.

"My culinary background and MATC training were huge assets in getting on the show," she said in the college's culinary lab at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus. It's a culinary background that starts in the family kitchen. As one of 11 children, Schlicht would often help prepare family meals. A high school cooking class further developed interest. MATC's culinary apprentice program was a natural progression. "I wanted to go to MATC - it has the best career-focused culinary program around," she said.

MATC, Schlicht said, is also about getting students quickly to their goals. "I wanted to get into a career fairly quickly in something that I loved to do. From MATC's culinary program you can move right into a career," she said. During her apprenticeship and after graduation, Schlicht worked at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro. Las Vegas was her next career stop, first as a chef at the recently opened Wynn Hotel and currently at Caesar's Palace.

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John Reiss, MATC culinary arts instructor, with Suzanne Schlicht in the MATC kitchen.

Her culinary experiences locally and in Las Vegas lean to classic French and Italian, but Schlicht said she would like to concentrate on a more basic approach in the future. A goal is to own and operate a place where soups, sandwiches and a few ethnic basics help form a community gathering destination.

MATC Culinary Arts instructor Chef John Reiss has no doubt that Schlicht will succeed at whatever career goals she sets. Reiss recalls a "very assertive, confident student, knowing what she wanted to do with her career and how to get there." Reiss said a chef's responsibility in orchestrating a restaurant kitchen is a "tough business." He firmly believes Schlicht has what it takes to continue on her highly successful path.

Schlicht is quick to return a compliment to her former instructor. "Food is a personal thing," she said. "It has to be taught on personal level by someone who is passionate and has 100 times the knowledge of students. John Reiss has that."