SAIT culinary students and the general public alike got treated this fall with the Sept. 16 opening of the new Culinary Campus in the Scotia Centre on Stephen Avenue downtown.
The campus not only provides students with new state-of-the-art equipment and Calgary’s only teaching-based baking and pastry-arts kitchen, it also gives them the opportunity to work directly with the public.
The Market is a series of stations run by the students who serve both breakfast and lunch to hungry Calgarians. There, students gain experience that is truer to what they can expect in the workforce than in a typical classroom environment.
“If students get to hide in the kitchen, the transition can be harder,” says teacher and award-winning chef, Michael Dekker. “Here they’re in a live setting, under a time crunch. It brings customers and students together.”
Since the opening, Dekker says that the campus has been experiencing very high volumes.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “The students are really pumped about it; it’s great to see their enthusiasm.”
Second-year Professional Cooking student Eric Maddocks describes the experience as “more intense.”
“We’re doing things right away, on the spot. We’re doing it right in front of everyone,” said Maddocks.
Taste-testing student creations won’t be the only reason for Calgarians to come through the doors.
The Culinary Campus will also offer a variety of classes to the public, and lend out the facility to businesses for corporate team-building events.
“We’ll offer an Artisan
series that focuses on a product like vinegar, or oil, or salt. They’ll learn about the background and history of that product,” said Dekker. “
Known as The Rush Hour program, it will also offer the downtown community a unique way to beat the busy, after-work rush.
“The whole concept is to stay in for rush hour rather than sit in traffic.” In the meantime, Dekker adds, customers acquire some valuable learning.
This demonstration class of 45 minutes is available every Tuesday, when people are shown how to cook a dish. Afterward, they are provided with the recipe and ingredients to recreate the meal at home.
Classes are available to people of every skill level. Upcoming classes range from perfecting pies, to the art of Chinese cuisine, to creating novelty cakes.
Drink enthusiasts need not feel left out. A series named From the Bar will focus on food and drink pairing, creating cocktails, and what to serve for date nights.
With a keen interest on catering to the needs of both students and the public, the campus focuses primarily on programs and public offerings.
“It brings another aspect to downtown. When you come in and get your food, and see that interactive learning environment, it makes people feel good,” said Dekker.
“It’s a hot new item and our students bring a great enthusiasm and passion, like nobody else.”