These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
When Brook Harlan returned to Columbia in 2002, he could only picture a future with food. Fresh out of the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Harlan got the opportunity to teach classes in culinary arts to high school students through the Columbia Area Career Center. For an hour and a half each day, Harlan slices, dices and cooks up excitement in the kitchen for his students. They learn basics from knife cutting and cuts of beef to cooking appetizers and desserts. Now a six-year resident, he says, “I thought I’d be here a year.”
Two years ago, the Food Network chose Harlan as one of eight finalists for the debut season of The Next Food Network Star. Although he didn’t win, Harlan gleaned new ways to help teach his students. In a way, he says, hosting a cooking show is like teaching culinary arts to a particularly large audience. In his short stint on television and in the past few years as a teacher, he says, “I try to convey my passion for food.”
Since his moment in the spotlight, Harlan picked up a gig as food editor at Inside Columbia magazine. Through the magazine he has been able to organize Culinary Adventures, a new series of food tours that he has led to New Orleans and Napa Valley. The tours gather people who love to taste different foods and let them experience his passion of fine restaurants. They also involve cooking demonstrations and winery visits. Harlan says people have been receptive to the trips, and the tourists range from readers of the magazine to residents of St. Louis and even Florida.
Despite all his travels, this culinary master can’t choose a favorite dish. Five course meals, after all, spice up life.