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Culinary Institute of Canada reopens following $7.5 million renovation

Second-year student Andre Pratt was excited to see the institute’s renovations and new induction heated stoves.  ©THE GUARDIAN/
Second-year student Andre Pratt was excited to see the institute’s renovations and new induction heated stoves. ©THE GUARDIAN/Terrence McEachern

Austin Clement admits it’s a little bit weird to be sitting in the Culinary Institute of Canada’s new formal dining area, especially since the space used to be the top of a flat roof.

“(Anyone) who would have been here before would have remembered what it was like to have been here before in the Lucy Maud Dining Room and look out over the water. And, between them was a flat roof, an ugly flat roof,” said Clement, a program manager at the institute on Sydney Street in Charlottetown.

The new facilities opened up to students on Monday after months of renovations. Clement said the restaurant and cafeteria are expected to open to the public next week.

Holland College announced earlier this year its $7.5 million plan to renovate and expand the institute. The college contributed $1.8 million while the federal government provided $2.55 million and the province $2.5 million. The remainder was made up through fundraising. 

 

Austin Clement, program manager at Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada, stands in the expanded formal dining area on Tuesday. After months of renovations priced at $7.5 million, the institute’s facilities opened up to students this week.  ©THE GUARDIAN/Terrence McEachern

Austin Clement, program manager at Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada, stands in the school's expanded formal dining area. ©THE GUARDIAN/Terrence McEachern

 

Clement estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 square feet has been renovated with 5,500 square feet of kitchen and operational space added, including 2,500 square feet for the new, expanded dining area, which expects to seat about 100 people.

The institute has about 140 culinary students, 34 pastry students and 60 international hospitality and management students. 

Besides the new dining room, the renovations included the cafeteria and marché spaces.  The marché has different sections, such as a pastry/bakery area, a deli and a bistro, as well as heated and refrigerated counter tops. 

The dining and marché spaces open up to the kitchens so people can watch the chefs prepare their food.

“We just felt we needed our students to be front and centre. Long gone are those times where the chefs and the cooks were in the back room cooking and the wait staff and servers and the clients were on the other side of the wall. Now, there really is no wall. And, that’s a standard now in the industry,” he said.

Other changes include new induction heating stoves and 89 refrigerators throughout the institute.

One area Clement is proud of is the new butcher’s space, which also has a window so people can see how meat is cut. The space is kept at a temperature of around 10C. On Tuesday, students were trimming pork shoulders that would go into a meat grinder and be used for sausages. 

 

First-year student Rebecca Sly from England cuts up a pork shoulder in the institute’s new butcher space.  ©THE GUARDIAN/Terrence McEachern
First-year student Rebecca Sly from England cuts up a pork shoulder in the institute’s new butcher space. ©THE GUARDIAN/Terrence McEachern

 

The renovations and additions are intended to replicate a working environment, Clement said.

“Instead of training students in a lab environment, where they’re never going to experience that again in their careers, we start them off on the very first day in industry kitchens and dining rooms and banquet operations that are the same. We train students in that environment because it’s the same environment they’re going to spend the rest of their lives in.”

Second-year student Andre Pratt used induction heat stoves at The Merchant Tavern in St. John’s this summer during his internship.

Compared to last year facilities, he was excited to see the institute’s renovations and new equipment.

“The first time I walked in here, I had googly eyes. I fell in love. The counters are brand new, everything is brand new,” he said.

He was especially happy to see the induction stoves. 

“They heat up extremely fast and are a lot cleaner and easier to maintain.”

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