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First Energy Foundation Supports the Culinary Institute Project

3/2/2022 9:27:22 AM

A renovation project at Sussex County Community College's McGuire Technical Education Center on Main Street in Newton is moving ahead. The Center recently received a boost from a community partner, FirstEnergy Foundation, who made a substantial donation to the project. When completed, the Center will house the Sussex Culinary Institute and its training kitchen, a commercial kitchen, a restaurant open to the public, and other technology-based programs such as welding, automotive, and diesel.

A donating being made in front of the McGuire Building Schematics for new Culinary Institute

When Jacqueline Espinoza, Regional External Affairs Consultant with FirstEnergy Corp., first learned about the Culinary Institute, she was convinced it was an excellent opportunity for the company's Foundation to support. The Foundation's donation of $10,000 will help the Center get to its goal of opening this summer. 

"In hearing Dr. Connolly (President of Sussex) speak about all the progress with the technology program, I knew this would be a great fit for the FirstEnergy Foundation," said Espinoza. "The FirstEnergy Foundation helps to strengthen the social and economic fabric of our communities. The Culinary Program is a perfect match for our Foundation's giving priority to empower our communities' workforce development and educational initiatives. This program is just what our community needs to prepare students for a career in the hospitality industry. We are proud to support this program. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress of the culinary program and look forward to having lunch at the restaurant!" 

"We are excited that our goal of creating the SCCC Culinary Institute at the McGuire Technical Education Campus is nearing completion," said Martin Kester, Supervisor of Culinary Arts & Hospitality at SCCC. "This ambitious project is made possible by the strong support of community partners like FirstEnergy Corporation. Trade programs like these will have a tangible and lasting effect on our local communities and nationally. We are grateful for their support."

When operational, the restaurant will be open to the public a few days a week for lunch and dinner services with a seating capacity of about 30-40. In addition, the restaurant will ultimately be available to host special events, guest-chef dinners, and cooking workshops open to the community. The restaurant's dining room will feature accordion-style glass doors to allow more spacing and outdoor dining in warmer weather.

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

For more information about the Culinary Institute, and the McGuire Center in general, visit sussex.edu/academics.

Left Image: Pictured left to right, Stan Kula, SCCC Executive Director of the Foundation, Jason Fruge SCCC Dean of Technical Studies, Jacqueline Espinoza, Regional External Affairs for First Energy Corp, and Martin Kester, SCCC program Supervisor Culinary Arts and Hospitality.

Right Image: A mock-up of the Culinary Institute and renovation.