Professional kitchen to support award-winning high school program, plus college’s noted Culinary Institute, community cooking classes
By Suzie Romig
Cooks in training and aspiring chefs are in for a treat when the new professional-grade learning kitchen opens at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.
The teaching kitchen is a joint venture of Eagle County Schools and Colorado Mountain College’s Culinary Institute at the Vail-Eagle Valley Campus. With the new high school opening Sept. 21 next door to the college campus, the kitchen will be convenient for high school students during the day and for college students and community members during evenings, weekends and school breaks.
“It will strengthen our culinary degree program and will provide an opportunity to meet the needs of community members who want to take noncredit cooking courses,” said Todd Rymer, director of culinary education at the college campus. “It also will help students at the high school who are in the ProStart program designed by the National Restaurant Association to allow high school students to develop professional cooking skills while in high school.”
The new kitchen will be available to high school learners, including students in the school’s popular consumer studies courses, when BMHS opens Sept. 21. The kitchen is 1,700 square feet, supplemented by an additional 1,145-square-foot culinary classroom.
Sharon Wible, BMHS consumer studies teacher and ProStart culinary team instructor, said she is excited to have a more spacious and up-to-date location for the school’s growing cooking program, which will add an international foods class this fall. The elective classes enroll some 125 students each trimester.
The kitchen will enrich the high school’s ProStart culinary team, which has won the state competition seven times in the past 10 years and captured the national title in 2007.
“Having that knowledge about how commercial kitchens work will be a huge benefit for the high school students prior to going out into the industry,” said Paul Ferzacca, local restaurant owner and one of the ProStart mentors.
Resort organizations, community, college support facility
School district and college organizers raised approximately $200,000 in community funding to equip the kitchen similar to a full-service restaurant. The Beaver Creek Resort Co. donated $100,000, and $50,000 was raised through the Vail Valley Wine Auction. In addition to these donations, CMC contributed another $150,000 to the joint project.
The top-notch equipment includes refrigerated work tables, specialized broilers and a combination oven and steamer. Audiovisual equipment can record cooking classes so that students are able to take home a taped version.
Although the college’s Culinary Institute students will continue learning at Vail Resorts restaurants through the highly successful apprenticeship program, the new kitchen in Edwards will allow centralized classes for a culinary degree program that has not had its own kitchen.
“Since we instituted this program 10 years ago, we have just been borrowing kitchens,” said Rymer. “This gives us a dedicated teaching kitchen.”
Rymer has fielded frequent inquiries from community members who hoped to take cooking classes that are only open to culinary degree students. The culinary director now hopes to meet community requests through a variety of home gourmet classes.
The continuing education cooking classes kick off with a Friday evening series this fall. The offerings include Let’s Make Pasta on Oct. 9, Appetizers on Oct. 23, Cooking with Quinoa on Nov. 6 and Winter Soups on Nov. 20. Community members are encouraged to contact Rymer with suggestions for other classes at 569-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.