Fox Valley Technical College had their big reveal Thursday morning on their 8,500 square foot Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre.
The main story is here.
Here are some other notes about my interview with Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel:
- The theatre actually began as an idea to remodel to construct a demonstration cooking area. It morphed into a full-build after fundraising efforts were successful beyond what they had envisioned.
- Igel says they surpassed the challenge grant offered by Jones Dairy in 90 days. Sought donations from purveyor partners, distributors and manufacturers.
- Worked with Wisconsin-based companies like Alto-Shaam and Vollrath to help with design, layout and equipment.
- Theatre can actually hold a maximum 150 people.
- Igel calls Fox Valley Tech's culinary program Wisconsin's largest. "We take a back seat to no one."
Chef Jeff was trying to be very humble, but truth be told I think I brought this out of him. "I would take my team of chefs (7 faculty and 3 managers) and put them against anyone in the nation," Igel said.
When talking about recruiting (more than 300 are enrolled in culinary arts/hotel and restaurant management programs), Igel would tell a prospective student, "Look at facilities, curriculum and faculty."
Chef Jeff adds they build their reputation one student, one class at a time. "We're employed to help you get a job," he said.
The fire begins on Monday when 10 classes are scheduled to be held inside the theatre. But Igel says he's excited to get the public involved, "When we're not using it, I want it available to other programs, non-vocational classes."
What's the future of the industry? Chef Jeff tells me he thinks it's a move to more induction cooking. How can you argue with boiling a pot of water in 70 seconds?
The public is invited to their open house on Tuesday February 12th from 3 until 6 p.m. Another big event, their Cultural Cuisine, is on Sunday February 24th. Tickets are available for the Cultural Cuisine event at their website here.
I can't wait to get back to 1825 N. Bluemound Drive in Grand Chute to soak in this facility.