KCC to Open Culinary Academy in Fall
Klamath Community College has announced plans to implement a new program in culinary arts beginning fall 2013. Though final approval for the new program must still be given by the State of Oregon’s Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, KCC is moving forward with remodeling facilities and developing curriculum in anticipation of that approval being granted.
According to Jerry Johnson, who served as a consultant for the program, culinary arts is a rapidly growing field with numerous career opportunities. Johnson, a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu program, said despite the title of culinary “arts,” it is a very technical discipline. “This is the type of program that students can enter, learn the necessary skills, graduate, and go right to work,” Johnson said.
Before seeking approval from the state and its accrediting body, KCC had to first conduct a study to determine whether or not the careers that graduates of the program would be qualified for are in demand. That study indicated that, yes, there is a growing need for graduates of culinary programs. “Some of these jobs may be elsewhere in the State of Oregon, but there are certainly jobs available in this field,” said KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez. “In fact, our research indicates that this program may help create jobs, as it will appeal to entrepreneurs as well.”
According to statistics from the Oregon Employment Department, the average hourly wage for food service managers in Klamath and Lake Counties is $19.25 to $24.50. The two counties have a 10-year employment projection that indicates an 8.3 percent increase in demand for chefs, 13.2 percent increase for food service managers and a 17.5 percent increase for cooks. Additionally, entrepreneurs and the self-employed may benefit from the program as well.
The college is exploring the possibility of having the program include three career pathways. One would be a short-term introduction to cooking with a focus on safety and sanitation, another would include a technical core featuring more advanced cooking skills and a focus on management, and the third would feature a specialty certificate in local sustainability and contemporary dining. “We are still working to develop the specifics of the curriculum,” said Chris Stickles, Dean for Career Technical Education at KCC. “There are also exciting ways that this program and facility will benefit our non-credit programs and the community as a whole.”
The college is currently taking steps to begin remodeling existing classroom space to include a commercial kitchen that will house the program. The remodel is expected to be paid for largely with state lottery bonds, which KCC anticipates will be provided to help start the program.