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SCCC's Culinary Institute to begin Expansion

5/17/2021 11:21:47 AM

Interior blueprints of the McGuire Technical Education Center plus images of the new folding doors.

What's cooking at Sussex County Community College (SCCC)? The growing Culinary program! The College's announcement about beginning a new expansion project for the program comes with even more tasty news.

Renovations at the College's McGuire Technical Education Center on Main Street in Newton are scheduled to begin on June 7 and anticipate being ready for classes in early 2022. When completed, the Sussex Culinary Institute will include a training kitchen, a commercial kitchen, and a restaurant open to the public.

"I am thrilled for this project to be getting underway," said Martin Kester, Supervisor of Culinary Arts & Hospitality at Sussex. "It's going to be a truly unique facility for its size and scope. Small enough to be very approachable and student-focused but have the means to accomplish anything we can imagine. 

The dining room will feature accordion-style glass doors to allow for more spacing and outdoor dining in warmer weather. As things return to normal, the restaurant will be available to host special events, guest-chef dinners, and cooking workshops open to the community.

"It's going to be wonderful, not just for the College but also for the community at large," said Dr. Jon Connolly, SCCC's President. "The Institute will have a life of its own and be a feeder for restaurants throughout the county and beyond."

It is anticipated that the restaurant will be open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays for lunch and dinner services with a seating capacity of about 30-40.

"We want to create a challenging real-world scenario for the students while providing true hospitality to our guests," said Kester. "The goal is to have this be completely student-driven."

The menu will vary season to season and likely be a 3-course fixed-priced menu. The meals will be seasonally inflected based on what is locally grown or by the Sussex Agriculture programs, a tie-in with another Sussex program that has become hugely popular.

While running a restaurant is nice, the end game provides a feeder job market for others.

"Our No. 1 priority is to equip students with the tools necessary to be successful in the industry and to retain them with employment locally," said Kester. "Hospitality is a key part of our regional economy, and we aim to support that in any way we can. There is a tremendous opportunity for hard-working individuals to get in and advance."

Tammie Horsfield, President of the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, agrees.

"This can assist local restaurants in attracting millennials and others to fill chef's positions," she said. "It very well may be an important piece of a restaurant's long-term business plan in the future. Not only will the program assist students in becoming a professional chef, but it also gives them a deeper appreciation for food while learning more about the health benefits it may bring to the health of our community as well." 

For more information about the Culinary Institute at Sussex, visit sussex.edu/academics.