MATC Culinary Arts, Hospitality Programs Shine Bright in BizTimes Awards

Mark Feldmann,

November 15, 2023

Milwaukee Area Technical College’s highly-regarded Hospitality and Culinary Arts programs were well represented in Notable Women in Hospitality, a special section published by the BizTimes on Monday, Nov. 13.

Culinary Arts alumni and current chefs Malaysia Campbell-Leung, Corinne Kaehler, Lisa McKay were recognized, along with Hospitality Lead Faculty Carmen Smalley.

malaysia-campbell-leung.pngMalaysia Campbell-Leung 

Malaysia Campbell-Leung is a gastronomic globetrotter.

Born and raised in Jamaica, she learned to cook after her mother suffered a stroke. She collected ingredients by scaling mango, breadfruit and ackee trees. She sold popcorn and citrus juice to her school mates. Later she moved to Zundert, Holland. She trekked across Europe, sampling local food all over the continent. 

She moved to the United States and in 2015 earned an associate degree in Culinary Arts at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Six months later she opened Fusion and Spice Catering on the northwest side of Milwaukee, serving business events, weddings, and other social gatherings.

“When I came to America I had a craving to have a life outside of the box,” Leung said. “I wanted to push the boundaries as much as I could, so I moved to the city, where I could find a school that could help me do that. 

I found a college with the most open-minded instructors who helped me to hone my art and creativity.” 

At Fusion and Spice, Leung has put her international experience to good use. She offers entrees, appetizers and buffet spreads in an array of cuisines, including classic American, French, Italian and Mexican.

“Malaysia has the passion and skill to create great culinary creations and memorable food experiences,” said Paul J. Carrier, lead faculty and department chairperson of MATC’s Culinary Arts program. “She also has mentored many of our culinary students to greater successes. She has found success through hard work and her own determination. No matter what she is challenged with, she always ends up a shining star.”

Read about Chef Malaysia

Corinne Kaehler

corinne-kaehler.pngCorinne Kaehler's culinary journey began with her mother's influence and a batch of scratch-made cookies. Today, Kaehler serves as the executive chef at Onesto, a prominent Italian eatery within Benson’s Restaurant Group.

She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), earning an associate degree in culinary arts, graduating with honors. While culinary school provided a solid foundation, Kaehler emphasizes the importance of real-world kitchen experience. She values the lessons learned from chefs, line cooks, and the continuous learning inherent in the culinary profession.

After her MATC graduation, Kaehler served four years as a line cook at several Bartolotta restaurants. Her journey led her to Benson’s Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria in 2021, and in September 2022, she transitioned to Onesto, swiftly rising to the position of executive chef one year later.

Onesto, which is Italian for "honest", inspires Kaehler to give thoughtful consideration to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Her culinary philosophy centers on ingredient selection and creative combinations, seeking to bring out their playful essence.

“Corinne is passionate, caring and has a true love for Milwaukee's local culinary scene as well mentoring and training several of our current culinary arts students to great successes,” said Paul J. Carrier, lead faculty and department chairperson of MATC’s Culinary Arts program. “She is truly a rising star in southeastern Wisconsin's dining scenes from her hard work and determination to always do the very best for her customers and everyone she works with.”

“When you’re in the kitchen, you’re learning to work with people, how to be organized, and how to manage your time,” she said. “You’re learning things from chefs as well as line cooks. You learn from everyone in the profession. Knowledge doesn’t stop after culinary school, you definitely continue learning. I learn new things every day.”

Read about Chef Corinne

Lisa McKay

lisa-mckay.pngLisa McKay knows cooking and community can make a tasty combination.

McKay, who graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Culinary Management program in 2014, has operated her own catering company since 2008.

She is also highly visible and seriously involved in the Milwaukee community, offering cooking classes, providing a summer culinary camp for teens and being active in the Milwaukee chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

In 2013 she was appointed director of ACF Milwaukee’s Chef and Child Foundation, where she fights childhood obesity through educational seminars in the schools, teaching students healthy eating habits. 

For the past two years, McKay has led ACF’s summer Culinary Education Academy, giving more than 50 children between 6 and 17 years old hands-on experience cooking a range of multicultural cuisines. McKay is passionate about developing younger chefs. She employs culinary students, which helps enhance their skills, increase their confidence and inspire their entrepreneurial spirit. 

“I want them to discover their talents in the same way I was encouraged,” McKay said.

While at MATC, McKay served as student liaison to the ACF, won the Student of the Year award in 2011, and the Rising Star award in 2013.

She was president of MATC Culinary Club and served as a mentor to other culinary students, gaining respect from her classmates and instructors.

After graduating she won the ACF Chef of the Year award in 2015 and the ACF Steady Eddy award in 2016.

“Lisa has been a skillful advisor for our students as well as a very successful culinary alumni in Milwaukee's culinary community,” said Paul J. Carrier, Lead Faculty - Department Chairperson of MATC’s Culinary Arts programs. “She is a caring, passionate chef as well as very talented, projecting her skills collaboratively to the city’s business community.”

Read about Chef Lisa

Carmen Smalley

carmen-smalley.pngCarmen Smalley is an instructor and Lead Faculty of the Hospitality and Events Management program at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Carmen has been an instructor at MATC since 2014. In her role she provides oversight to MATC’s Event Management program and the Hospitality Management program and teaches courses  in person and online.  

A hotel sales veteran, Carmen’s unique combination of real industry experience and her encouraging educational style has enabled her to strengthen the school to career pipeline for her students and Milwaukee area hoteliers.

In 2022, Smalley was named Associate of the Year by the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association. The award recognizes one professional each year who services the Wisconsin lodging industry in an exemplary manner. 

Read about Carmen

ABOUT MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. Nearly 28,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.