Culinary program gets new home

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Due to increasing popularity and a lack of space, the LBW Community College’s culinary program will get a new home inside the college’s student center this August.

Dr. Herb Riedel, college president, said the program reached a milestone this month, graduating its first student from the program.

“Chef Michael Whelan is pleased with the way things are going, and so am I,” Riedel said. “The city was kind enough to allow us to use the kitchen at Springdale in the carriage house. Really, it was a godsend. It allowed us to start program and allowed us to use the front area of carriage house for instructional purposes

“However, we have now found, that with popularity of the program, the space is too small,” he said. ‘But that is a good problem to have.”

Riedel said discussion was held about moving the program to another off-campus location, but ultimately staff decided to move three offices in the back area of the student center to a different location to make room for the program.

The 675 square-foot space will be renovated as a kitchen, complete with two gas six-burner stoves, a deep fryer, a 14-foot ventilation hood, counter space, work tables and triple sinks, Riedel said.

The culinary kitchen will be located next to the college bookstore.

“In fact, it will have a window to observe students at work, and there will be a serving window,” he said. “So, when students are learning to cook, they will prepare food, and since they always prepare more than they can eat, it will be available for sale to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays.”

Riedel said he anticipates opening the new lab in time for fall classes, which begin on Aug. 21. He said there will be a multi-phase project, with the design phase, the construction of the new office space and then the demolition and construction phases.

Riedel said dual enrollment through the area’s high schools has helped to grow the program.

“I did hear from Opp about (the next school year),” he said. “They had 22 students who expressed an interest. And I expect interest to grow. It’s a popular course. Students have to start with basics like safety and sanitation. Then, they learn basic cooking skills like stocks and sauces.

“For high school students, if they plan accordingly, they may be able to complete short certification while in junior and senior years,” he said. “It also provides an opportunity for students who wish to make a career in the culinary field to pursue further studies. We are thinking expanding to a two-year program, but in the meantime, students can transfer to a two-year college. Then, they can go on and get a bachelor’s degree and later become a master chef.”

Riedel said he feels the program is a great resources for the community because it provides an employee bases for those in the food service industry.