With the chop of a cleaver, FKCC President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra cut the ribbon on the College’s Culinary Arts Lab on Wednesday morning.  The new facility, located on the Key West Campus, will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students enrolled in the College’s Culinary Management programs.  Designed to be representative of future workplace kitchens, the lab houses brand new commercial grade equipment including a walk-in cooler with reach-in freezer, a series of cook-top ranges and ovens sheltered by a 21-foot exhaust hood, as well as maple top work tables.

During the ceremony, Gueverra emphasized the valuable role the program plays in training a well-rounded, high-quality professionals for the local restaurant and tourism industries.  “Our culinary students do not simply learn to cook,” said Gueverra.  “Before they get to play with knives and bake cakes, they study math, science, and technology to apply to real world job aspects like food safety, planning and purchasing, and nutrition.  Our classes also integrate a variety of business lessons from accounting and marketing to management and leadership.  We are preparing students for dynamic, multi-faceted careers.”

Board members of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West were on hand to help celebrate the College’s new addition.  The organization presented a donation of $11,000 to the FKCC Foundation to furnish equipment and supplies for the lab.  The Lodging Association was a key partner in the development of both the Culinary Management and the Hospitality and Ecotourism Management programs at the College, which launched in 2016.  Since then, they have provided scholarships and facilitated the cultivation of local internships opportunities for students in both programs.

The grand opening of the Culinary Arts Lab comes just in time to allow current students to take their final exams in the new space.  “Much like a cooking show, students will receive a mystery basket of goods from which they will have to create a dish that represents what they have learned,” said Chef Jorge Sanchez, FKCC Culinary Management Department Chair, of his students enrolled in the International and Regional Food and Garde Manger classes.  “They will be graded based on cooking methods, flavor, and artistry.”

In the Associate in Science in Culinary Management program, students learn technical skills and acquire practical knowledge necessary to enter a variety of jobs in the food service industry.  Coursework in the two-year degree ranges from cooking, baking, and nutrition to restaurant and catering management.  In addition to the associate degree, three certificates—Chef’s Apprentice, Culinary Arts Management, and Culinary Arts—are also offered.  Credits earned in these certificates can be applied toward the associate degree.

Prospective students interested in pursuing a degree or certificate in Culinary Management are encouraged to contact FKCC Recruiter Christina Leahy at 305-809-3207 or Christina.leahy1@fkcc.edu.