NRAEF : Blog

National Culinary Arts Month Educator Highlight- Cody Hayes

by | Jul 23, 2021 | Blog Post |

The next educator we are highlighting for Culinary Arts Month comes to us from Rockwall, TX. Chef Cody Hayes has been teaching in the ProStart Program at Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy for 12 years, but his culinary career began far before that. Cody’s love for the Culinary Arts is written on the walls. When asked what his favorite part of it all is, he responded, “

I enjoy serving others – I know it may sound corny, but whether it’s serving a cup of coffee or making a full meal, I love the feeling of providing something to someone that brings them joy.”  

About Cody

Cody graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management. Cody has over 19 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry and he loves the fast-paced environment. Cody has worked as a Culinary Manager, Beverage and Hospitality Manager, and Regional Training Manager at Darden Restaurants in the restaurant industry. After that, he worked as the Director of Operations for an organic beverage company in Dallas. While leading the ProStart Program, Cody has been named the Rockwall High School Teacher of the year, Rockwall ISD Secondary Teach of the Year, Region 10 Teacher of the Year, a top-three finalist for the State of Texas Teacher of the Year, and received the Texas Restaurant Association’s Educator of Excellence Award. Cody says “I am simply one lucky guy to get to do what I do every single day.”

Cody’s ProStart Program

All of those experiences led Cody to start the ProStart Program at Rockwall High School in 2009. Since its start, Cody has evolved the activity-driven course into a renowned and nationally recognized program! The program moved to Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy into a state-of-the-art facility and now Cody works with three other instructors, all of which are past students or competitors in the ProStart Program. The program has many accolades, including the North Texas Iron Chef Champions, winning the state championship title with the Texas ProStart Program six times, and they have won the National ProStart Program twice- once in Culinary Arts and once in Restaurant Management. All of these experiences have paved the way for students to attend college and enter the professional culinary world. 

Advice and Lessons

In the kitchen, Cody loves teaching his students how to prepare made from scratch pasta because his students absolutely love it! He gives his students and upcoming culinary professionals one piece of advice while moving forward in their careers, “Work hard, work smart, be prepared, and always keep moving forward.” He also shared one lesson that he learned early in his career that he still uses today. He says Culinary Arts is so much more than cooking. He says It is about being prepared and making people feel special; whether it be through food, a warm and friendly hello or, opening the door for someone – one has to have a heart for making people feel special.” He finished by saying, “It’s why I do what I do.” Thank you Cody for all your amazing attributions to the ProStart Program and Culinary world! 

Latest Blog Posts

PODCAST – ProStart: Educating Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders

Chef Patrick Phelan, 2023 ProStart® Teacher of the Year, shares insights on mentoring the next generation of restaurant workers and the value of the ProStart Program’s hands-on curriculum! Phelan was just recognized on-stage during the 2023 National ProStart Invitational in Washington, DC.