DMACC Newton Chef Loves Bringing Joy through Cooking
Whether through her cooking or her teaching, Chef Julie Drew has used the culinary arts to bring joy to people for virtually all her life.
“My father passed away when I was seven years old,” said Drew, a native of Hampton, Iowa. “I could tell my mom was very sad so I thought I'd bake her a cake. I made a cake of flour, sugar, water and red hots. The funny thing is, I've always related food to making people happy. It all dated back to 1968 when I was seven, and I have enjoyed cooking since then.”
Today Drew shares her love of cooking by both doing and teaching as the leader of the expanded Culinary Arts program at the Newton Campus. Drew has worked as an adjunct instructor in DMACC Culinary Arts on the Ankeny Campus since 2009 and was hired full time in 2013 to work at Newton. She spent the 2013/14 school year working with high school students enrolled in the Culinary Arts program through the Newton Career Academy. Newton plans to offer Culinary Arts college courses to regular credit student starting in the fall of 2014.
After her love of cooking blossomed at age seven, it remained strictly a hobby during Drew's years as a young mother.
“When our children were very young I was in an organization of women called Lady's Day Out. During one of our meetings we were talking about what we wanted to do when our kids went to school,” Drew said. “I said I wanted to start a dessert business and get more involved in cooking and baking. Well, there was a graphic artist sitting there (in the group) and she said 'Why don't you get started now and I'll make you some cards?' And it just went from there.”
In 1992 Drew founded a dessert business, The Final Course, which she continues in a limited capacity today. Drew's career turned toward teaching after she sought education for herself in 2008.
“I had people approach me to teach classes and I thought I needed more training and credibility beyond just the fact that I had cooked for a very long time,” she said. “So I went through the DMACC program. I was very impressed by the program and learned so much. Again, I've been cooking for a very long time and I still feel that I am constantly learning. DMACC had great chef instructors to work with.”
Drew filled a vacancy in the DMACC program's faculty in Ankeny in 2009. She soon found that, like baking someone a cake, teaching someone to cook was also a way to use the culinary arts to bring them joy.
“What I like about teaching is the reaction I get from students,” she said. “Whether it be a cooking class I'm doing outside of school to a women's group or my students here at Newton, it's seeing the look in their eyes and on their faces when they get it. That gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.”
Drew said making a career in the culinary arts requires an artistic mind and a willingness to ask questions. Most of all, great chefs have passion for the art, science and service involved in professional cooking.
The Newton Culinary Arts program offers exceptional facilities, equipment and curriculum for the first year of DMACC's Culinary Arts associate's degree program. Graduates of the Newton program will receive a diploma and be eligible to transfer to the Ankeny Campus if they wish for a second year of classes that culminate in an associate's degree.
As Chef Drew said, “We're so excited. I'm really ready for this to get going. I've had so much fun with this group of high school students this year, and to help develop the college program for next school year, so I am ready to go.”