While it’s not aways strictly required by state law, restaurant owners and workers sometimes find themselves in need of continued education on food safety and handling practices.

The Chef and I hosted an FDA Servsafe course Monday morning, which a handful of local restaurant owners and staff members attended.

Owner of the Chef and I Kalecia Simmons said she wanted to see the course offered to her staff and to other Junction City restaurants.

“One of the things that I was really, really excited about was being able to offer that to my entire staff, which is rare because the class is not administered in Junction City,” she said.

The test is administered about twice yearly in Manhattan.

“That window is really short of when you get an opportunity to take it,” Simmons said. “So when we were able to host our class here, we wanted to reach out to as many people as possible just to give them an opportunity to come.”

The class is not required for restaurant owners and staff, Simmons said, but she felt it was helpful.

“For me, this was a refresher course because I had to get the certification for my culinary degree,” she said.

Simmons took her course in 2006 in a state outside of Kansas, so she felt it was time for some continuing education.

“There’s been a lot of updates to regulations and FDA laws,” she said.

Simmons said she also wanted to offer her staff something they can take with them if they leave that could open doors of opportunity they might not otherwise have.

“This certification is transferable,” she said. “It is a resume booster.”

Owner of Hot Rodz BBQ Ron Jackson was among those who took the course Monday.

“The (instructor) was very thorough — went over everything,” he said.

Jackson was pleased with what he took away from the course and with how he performed, he said.

“It showed us new ways and habits,” he said. “It reiterated things that we already practice.”

As with other participants, Jackson said the course was not required — he just felt it was a good opportunity for him.

“They are a process that you go through to maintain excellence in our profession — learning our craft, keeping up on new ways,” he said, adding that for him it was about serving the customers. “We’re here to keep a good, healthy twist on our food, our restaurants, and to the latest things like allergies, cross contamination — we are studying our craft, being a good steward of the community and knowing our business. Not guessing at it — knowing.”

About 12 people, including staff and ownership from a handful of local restaurants, took part.

The course was taught by David Belvin of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, who is a certified Servsafe management instructor.

“We did the food handling part of that — basically covering the same thing, but in a more condensed version,” he said.

Subjects covered were sanitation, proper handling of food products, personal hygiene and similar subjects. He updated the group on the most recent changes to FDA regulations, which he said were enacted about two years ago.

“They did really well,” Belvin said of the group. “It was a very cooperative group, so they brought a lot of questions that they had in their restaurants and how it applies to the FDA code and I helped them understand why that’s code and how they can follow that code.”

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