Tuesday, October 26, 2021
By Jennifer Keefe
If there were an international language of food, there’s a good chance Alex Erdmann, dean, School of Hospitality and Culinary at the Downtown Campus, would speak it. When Alex joined Valencia College in 2018, he brought with him an entire menu of culinary certifications, including being a German Certified Master Chef.
Before coming to the College, Alex served as the executive chef and department head at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Alex was also an executive chef for Disney Cruise Line and a corporate traveling executive chef and trainer for Royal Caribbean.
Alex says his position at Valencia College has all the right ingredients for success. He sees himself “leading a team of amazing professionals to ensure our students succeed in their dreams of becoming valuable members of our industry.”
One of Alex’s greatest accomplishments has been using his leadership skills to build the Walt Disney World Center of Culinary Arts and Hospitality at the Downtown Campus. But Alex says he has so much more than that to be proud of. In fact, the programs have reached an enrollment of 2,000 students and graduates have a 100% job placement rate. But that’s not all. Alex is really thrilled by, “the partnerships we have with other educational institutions, the industry and community,” he says.
Those partnerships, along with his team and the hospitality and culinary students, are what really inspire Alex about his work at the College. To him, the College stands for access and opportunity. “Valencia College is possible, affordable and compares equally or better to any other educational institution,” he says.
Alex’s supervisor, Terri Graham, interim president, West and Downtown Campuses, really appreciates all he has done to build Valencia College’s programs.
”We are honored to have Chef Alex Erdmann serve as the current dean of our School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts,” she says, ”His expertise and industry partnerships bring immense value to the student experience.”
Aside from his culinary background, there is so much more to know about Alex. For example, he first came to the United States from Germany in 1997 as an exchange student. He intended to go back but got married and decided to stay.
“I like the way of life in America,” he says. ”There were a lot of opportunities for me here that did not exist in Germany at the time.”
In addition to being a German Master Chef, Alex also has a master’s degree in international hospitality management from Switzerland and is a certified hospitality educator. He went to Israel and learned how to cook kosher meals, a position he says was “like working in paradise.”
Alex also spent three years in the German military and served as the food and beverage director for the officer’s mess. Additionally, he’s held positions at hotels from London to Switzerland to Austria. And, when he came to America, he once worked as a part-time tax preparer to learn the American tax system. He says it is a lot simpler than the one in Germany.
In his free time, Alex enjoys cooking, biking, swimming, hiking, and exploring parks and historical sites with his family. He does still have some family in Germany and says he’s watching the transition of power in that country “very closely.”
Alex is very interested in showing off the hard work of his hospitality and culinary team at the Downtown Campus. He says you can come tour the third, fourth and fifth floors of the building on your own any time during normal business hours to savor in our students’ success.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.