Kitchen labs, totally fab

Kitchen labs, totally fab
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Samuel Glass is a professor and chef in the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture. Here he stands in one of Centennial’s three new kitchen labs, the baking lab. Large screen TVs allow students to follow professors as they bake.

By Lauren LiBetti Courier Editor

A $3.5 million renovation funds three new kitchen labs at Progress campus and has helped Centennial offer its first culinary management program.

Verona Barclay, the chair of the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture at Centennial College, is excited.

“We’ve never been able to go into the culinary arena, because we’ve never had the facilities. When you talk about expanding hospitality, it’s the culinary area that seems to be the growth area right now,” Barclay said.

The three new kitchen labs include a multipurpose lab, a bakery lab and an international kitchen. Large screen TVs allow students to follow and imitate professors as they cook or bake. After thorough planning, the 7,600 square feet facility opened to students in January.

“George Brown and Humber are well established in the culinary arena in the city. So we thought, ‘Okay if we were going in, what would we do so we were different?’” Barclay said.

The international kitchen is what sets Centennial apart from other colleges. The international kitchen includes a tandoori oven, wok line, pizza oven and more. Samuel Glass, a chef and professor in the program, says Centennial has cut a niche into the culinary field by specializing in international cuisine.

“Our initial projection was, we would take in 15 to 20 students….We ended up with an initial intake of 32 students, which exceeded just about everyone’s expectations,” Glass said.
The new kitchen labs came at a crucial time to the program, which only had one multipurpose lab.

“We were basically on a threshold and the college had to do something. Before we were actually teaching seven days a week and we didn’t make any friends with our students, with them going in on Saturday and Sunday,” said Juerg Roth, Chef & Coordinator, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture.

The renovation paid off, as Glass says that students and teachers are both enjoying the new facilities.

“They are very enthusiastic, they enjoy coming to class, they are learning, and they’re having fun.”

Adding a dash of culture to the curriculum

Verona Barclay, Chair of School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture.

By Lauren LiBetti Courier Editor

Centennial’s new international kitchen lab offers students an opportunity to not only learn international cuisine, but culture too.

“One of the driving forces behind the culinary management program is the whole relationship between cuisine and culture…it’s really interesting to see how some students have never boiled water or cracked an egg because it wasn’t within their culture,” Sam Glass said. Glass is a professor and chef in the culinary program.

The international kitchen lab features equipment such as a wok, tandoori and pizza oven.

Teaching students about the relationship between cuisine and culture is a forward-thinking approach.

“A lot of chefs don’t have an understanding of the cultural significance of what they are doing. On a personal level, and now on an institutional level, I think this is huge,” Glass said.

Gaining an understanding of other cultures and their relationship to food is embedded within the curriculum in subtle ways.

“Within this first semester, the students just learned about soup theory. So they are going to do a paper all about soup from their ethnic background, what it (soup) represents to them, and their history,” Glass said.

Teaching cuisine and culture is no easy task, but according to Glass, it is an important one.
“Can I embed all that cultural sensitivity? Maybe. Can I embed an awareness? Give them an education on what’s right and what’s wrong? Absolutely,” Glass said. “So that’s a big part of our program. Whether it’s blatantly obvious or hidden, I prefer to keep it hidden.”

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