Timothy Doebler, Director of Culinary Arts and Hospitality

Northern Light: How long have you been teaching?
Timothy Doebler: Eighteen years.

NL: How have you changed your style since you started teaching?
TD: When I first began teaching, I taught much like professors I had experienced when I was a college student. I lectured and expected students to learn the necessary information and reflect this learning in a mid-term and final. Over the years much has changed; I am more apt to give small formative tests to determine student learning progress. I realize that there are many learning styles and so I try to make my teaching style more adaptive. I pay attention to my student evaluations and make adjustments to the learning environment based on that feedback. I find I continue to assess and adjust my teaching style; it is never static.

NL: What have you taught at UAA and what are you currently teaching?
TD: I have taught the basic and advanced cooking and baking classes. I also taught Garde Manger and Buffet and Gourmet Cooking: Healthy Style. This semester, I will team teach Gourmet Cooking: Healthy Style with Dr. Anne Bridges. Also, I will teach Culinary Cost Control and Soups, Stocks and Sauces in November. In the spring, I will teach Gourmet Cooking: 20 minutes or less and Lo-carb Cooking Healthy Style along with Culinary Cost Control.

NL: What rewards do you personally get from teaching?
TD: It is always rewarding to see your students mature in the few short years they are here. Initially they seem lost, but with mentoring and guidance they will eventually accomplish their educational goals. It is inspiring for me to see people change their lives through higher education. To see students graduate and then find viable careers is rewarding. You know in some way you played a part.

NL: Where did you go to school? What was your major?
TD: The Culinary Institute of America, Associate in Occupational Studies; University of the State of New York, Bachelor of Science; American Culinary Federation, Certified Culinary Educator; University of Alaska Anchorage, Master of Vocational Education.

NL: What drew you to this field?
TD: Food and people. I am intrigued by culture and how people of various cultures use food. I always want to know what shaped their cuisine. Usually it has everything to do with their environment, history and belief system. As a culinary educator, I enjoy teaching people about food and how to safely and efficiently produce it and serve it in a profitable way. I started my first job as a dishwasher at age 14. It was at an old historic Alaska roadhouse 40 miles outside of Fairbanks. My mother was the boss.

NL: What was your worst or most interesting job as a student?
TD: My worst job was being a police dispatcher. It was one of those jobs were the adrenaline was always pumping. It was relentless. I handled the 911 line and almost every call was an emergency. I lasted one year in that position. I didn’t care for police work at all. It is very difficult, high-stress work. I have a lot of respect for police, fireman and other emergency workers.

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NL: What undergraduate course do you remember best?
TD: Without hesitation I would say Communications 111. I took the course as a freshman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Marcia Stratton was my professor. She is an exceptional teacher. I always paid attention in her class. She was captivating and had a gift for engaging her students. I still, to this day, vividly recall some of her lectures and that was 22 years ago.

NL: Born and raised?
TD: Los Angeles, Calif. Raised in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

NL: Favorite movie(s)?
TD: This is a difficult question. I find I have no favorites. I do have genres that I favor. I like classics and foreign films and I like well-done sci-fi. I like films that impart some meaning or help me to be more aware of nature or the human condition. I just recently watched “A Clockwork Orange” for the first time and was taken aback by how eerily contemporary it still is. It caused me to have even more respect for director Stanley Kubrick’s work.

NL: Favorite book, poem or screenplay?
TD: Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” Without doubt, if I were lost on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, I would desire this one book. I never tire of reading it and Dickens’ writing is so rich, I find something new each time I reread it.

NL: What are your favorite past times and hobbies?
TD: Food, culture, history. Lately, I notice I am taking an interest in urban planning and sustainable systems. I am paying more attention to agriculture and where the food supply comes from.

NL: What are you most passionate about in life?
TD: Education. Get some! It really does change lives and systems.

NL: If you were stranded on a deserted island as a professional chef and you could only bring one of two kinds of fats — butter or olive oil, which one would you choose?
TD: This is a really difficult question for chefs. Ideally, we’d like to have both. I think it would have to be butter.