SAUK RAPIDS - World renowned chef Jean Louis Gerin visited with students in the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School culinary program on Wednesday.

Chef Gerin is the executive and chief operating officer for New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He's won numerous awards for his cooking, including being the 2012 champion on the food network "Chopped" program. He says it’s always rewarding to meet with those just starting out in cooking and culinary arts.

"It's an extraordinary passion. You do it with your heart. You do it with your guts. You do it to please people because everything you cook doesn't go to you. The notion of pleasing someone you've never met before is really part of what we do."

Gerin decided to visit Sauk Rapids-Rice after meeting with FACS Instructor Mary Levinski, who invited him and the New England Culinary Institute to present to the award winning culinary program at the school. One of Gerin's biggest lessons to young students is that cooking is similar to sports and music, in that it takes constant practice. He also stressed that teamwork is key.

"Being a chef is being part of a team, that's number one. You have to have tremendous respect for the people around you and for yourself."

Chef Gerin has also been named Frances Maître Cuisiniers de France, France’s highest honor for chefs. He says there’s no shortage of opportunities in cooking today for students interested in the field.

"We need more and more chefs because the industry is booming. In America the number of restaurants opening is absolutely incredible and there's going to be jobs for everyone who wants to cook."

Chef Jean Louis Gerin takes a photo with students in the Sauk Rapids-Rice culinary program. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)