Hospitality Groundbreaking

Groundbreaking for Culinary Academy

Groundbreaking for JCCC’s new Culinary Academy will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, and the building’s anticipated completion date will be August 2013.

The one-story building, to be located directly south of the Regnier Center parking garage and easily visible from both College Boulevard and Quivira Road, will serve the 700-plus students in JCCC hospitality management programs and allow the college to offer more continuing education classes for the general public.

The 36,000-square-foot building will house seven kitchens: five culinary labs, an innovation kitchen and a demonstration kitchen in a culinary theatre.

A soaring 18-foot high lobby will make the building feel much larger than a one-story building, said Lindy Robinson, dean, business.

Innovation kitchen: This glass-walled space, located to the left of the lobby, will give visitors a chance to see the college’s award-winning culinary team in action as they practice for competitions. Currently, the team practices in kitchens in the Office and Classroom Building, tucked away from public view. Visiting chefs also will be featured in the innovation kitchen, Robinson said.

Culinary theater: The 75-seat culinary theatre, located to the right of the entry, will be equipped with a modified kitchen and back room preparation area for cooking demonstrations. A video production room and equipment will allow demonstrations to be taped and aired on the college’s cable channel.

The tiered theatre likely will become home for entry-level classes and will allow those classes to grow to 40 students, Robinson said.

Culinary labs: Two labs will be used for professional cooking classes, one for pastry classes, another as a garde manger or cold foods kitchen and the last of the five labs as a restaurant kitchen.

The restaurant kitchen will adjoin a dining room on the east end of the building that will be used for Thursday hospitality luncheons and other events.

The dining room also will be available for other events. In fact, with the lobby area and an outdoor patio on the east side of the building, the academy could be host to a number of events, Robinson said.

The cold foods lab is designed so that it can be used for meat fabrication, she said, with tracks in the ceiling that can be used to hang a side of beef. While JCCC student chefs may not have to do their own butchering, they need to know where cuts of meat are from and how that affects the cooking method used.

Meat fabrication possibilities don’t end with JCCC student chefs, Robinson said. The lab would allow the college to offer continuing education classes for butchers entering the field.

“Skilled butchers work in grocery stores and Costco,” she said. “But many of the trained butchers are retiring.”

In fact, she sees a great deal of potential for continuing education courses in the new building. Grocery stores are offering more specialty products, like expanded cheese lines, and continuing education will be needed for those workers.

Other continuing education classes could feed the hunger to learn about cooking fueled by the growth of the Food Channel.

“People want to take our entry level cooking classes, but we can’t do that now,” she said.

With the new building, those classes could become a possibility, along with summer cooking classes for kids, which have been requested by parents for years.

Hospitality management faculty and staff will be housed in the building as well, with an office suite that accommodates 15 or more people. The building also contains classrooms, workspace for adjunct instructors, a conference room and library.

However, Robinson said, the plan’s main focus is the students.

“We’re putting our money where the students will benefit,” she said.

The building is expected to cost $13 million, about $3.2 million of which was raised by the JCCC Foundation, Robinson, and Ona Ashley, director of hospitality management, and fund-raising continues, Robinson said. The project got off the ground with a $750,000 challenge grant from former Kansas Sen. David Wysong and his wife, Kathy.

DLR Group in Overland Park designed the building; J.E. Dunn is the general contractor.