Faculty Profile: Chef Richard Teeple
By Kurt Anthony Krug
A renowned professional ice carver for 35 years, Chef Richard Teeple considers himself lucky to bring his passion into the classroom at HFCC.
'I started doing it during my chef's training at 19 under Chef Milos Cihelka (of the Golden Mushroom Restaurant in Southfield)--I found it fascinating. I liked working with my hands and being creative,' he said.
According to Teeple, the medium of ice carving changes quickly in front of the artist's eyes, not just in terms of what is being sculpted but also due to changes in weather, which can either harden or soften the ice.
'You have to adjust your style and your tools. Since the property and the product are changing, you do not make the same piece twice,' Teeple explained. 'Nothing lasts. You preserve as much as you can with the refrigeration means available but nothing lasts. Like a culinary chef when creating a buffet or a nice platter of food, you are used to the idea that people are going to consume it. It's the personal satisfaction of being able to do it again for people to enjoy,' he added.
An alumnus of Schoolcraft College, Madonna University and Eastern Michigan University, Teeple has been a driving force in HFCC's Hospitality & Culinary Arts Program for more than 20 years. In addition to teaching food and ice carving classes at HFCC, Teeple founded the HFCC Ice Carving Club in 1990.
The club has been voted the most active club on campus for 10 years. It is the largest community-based ice carving club in the nation, boasting between 50-75 members. In addition, the club raises about $10,000 annually and provides scholarships to its members.
'There are four major things I look for when judging student ice sculptures,' he said. 'The first is technical skill--how good are they with tools, hand and power tools? The second is the available ice being used. The third is the form and symmetry of the final product. The fourth is the artistic impression--does it really excite you? Does it have the 'wow' look?'
Teeple has been voted Distinguished Student Club Faculty Advisor for nine years. He also received the Outstanding Educator Award for 2010 at the TRENDS Conference for Community College Innovators. Additionally, Teeple established the first ice carving club in Michigan, which was also one of the first in the nation. He has judged many ice carving competitions and is a Certified Lead Ice Carving Judge with the National Ice Carving Competition. He and his students recently participated in the Plymouth Ice Festival.
'I see culinary students as diamonds in the rough,' he said. 'I gave them the confidence, the tools and the facilities to develop them and help them achieve rewarding careers in the food industry--whether it's cake decorating, cooking, sales, and--of course--ice-carving.'