by Alana J. Mauger and Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new Culinary Arts Institute, located at the Towamencin Town Square complex, on March 23.
“The creation of the Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College will position us as the region’s premiere education resource for future culinary and pastry arts professionals,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, College president.
Slated to open in 2013, the 15,000 square-foot facility will feature four state-of-the-art kitchens and equipment, three SMART classrooms, a retail shop for coffee and baked goods, and a first floor patio for dining and grilling. The site can be conveniently accessed from the Blue Route (I-476) corridor and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
“With food being such a central part of our lives, it is incredibly appropriate that a community college provide programs for careers in the culinary arts,” said guest State Rep. Kate Harper. “Located near the turnpike in an emerging town center with potential area employers—this is the best of all possible worlds.”
State Senator Bob Mensch, who also spoke at the ceremony, praised the College, developer Philadelphia Suburban Development Corporation (PSDC) and Towamencin Township officials for their ingenuity in making the Institute possible through this public-private partnership.
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro additionally complemented the College for developing “new and innovative ways of teaching students.”
“For the fraction of the price, students can come here and get an unbelievable education in the culinary arts,” he said. “The College is a model of efficiency, creativity and thinking out of the box.”
Chef Christopher Allen Tanner will be leading the programs as the new Director of the Culinary Arts Institute. He previously worked as a chef instructor at Schenectady County Community College in New York, where he redeveloped the program’s curriculum. In 2011, he was named the American Culinary Federation’s Chef Educator of the Year for the Capital District-Central New York region and in 2010 he earned the organization’s Chef of the Year distinction.
The Culinary Arts curriculum emphasizes hands-on, lab-based learning in a professional kitchen setting, balanced with academic courses and cooperative internship training. Aligned with best practices in culinary education, the on-site program director, career coach and academic advisors will work directly with students from start to finish – from application through graduation to employment – to support their success.
Students will be able to select from a wide range of programing options that best meet their professional goals. Associate in Applied Science degree-seeking students can concentrate in Professional Culinary Arts or Professional Baking and Pastry Arts within the curriculum, and a one-year certificate program is also offered.
The National Restaurant Association anticipates significant industry growth through 2021, resulting in 28,200 new culinary jobs in Pennsylvania and 1.4 million new jobs nationwide. The Institute will have the capacity to enroll up 350 students over the next five years.
The Institute will also support variety of non-credit courses for the culinary enthusiast and professional development. Examples include basic catering, cooking technology, meeting and event planning, professional bartending, culinary occupational ESL, and ServSafe certification instruction in both English and Spanish.
Photos by David DeBalko