The University of Memphis has begun the process of expanding the culinary arts program by leasing L’Ecole Culinaire building in Cordova.

The UofM anticipates the approval of the expansion by the spring semester of 2020. The culinary arts school will offer a one year program to be certified in basic culinary skills by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), non-credit courses in culinary arts, baking and pastry, and public cooking classes open for the community to enjoy.

Tim Flohr, a Hospitality and Resort Management instructor at the UofM, said that the university found a great opportunity for the expansion of the culinary program. 

“The administration saw a huge void when L’Ecole shut down in December of last year,” Flohr said. “We intended to create a culinary arts program on campus, but when this opportunity became available we knew that this would be a much better opportunity for us.”

Flohr said the culinary concentration has yet to be approved but is anticipated for spring 2020.

“We don’t currently have a culinary concentration yet but that will be going to the University Undergraduate Counsel (UUC) on Oct. 11,” Flohr said. “If it is voted on at that time then we will hopefully be able to begin that in the spring of 2020.”

Flohr said commuting may be an issue for some students.

“It may be an issue, but hopefully in the future if we have enough students there may be an opportunity for us to help out with transportation,” Flohr said. “We’ve got a lot of students out here now who are carpooling with other students in class and it’s working out quite well actually.”

Flohr said the expansion is a great opportunity for the UofM and students, with the building measuring over 32,000 square feet with eight kitchens, eight classrooms, and dining rooms.

“We’re really excited, we have an opportunity to have one of the largest culinary schools in the Mid-South,” Flohr said. “We have a great opportunity here to provide a culinary arts curriculum to the entire community.”

Radesh Palakurthi, Dean of Kemmons Wilson Hospitality and Resort Management, said the program will add to an already broad field of study that includes hotel management, food service, cruise lines, and tourism.

“There is such a shortage of trained people and being a hospitality program we really didn’t have a curriculum in food service and culinary arts,” Palakurthi said. “So we were really defeating the purpose of calling ourselves a hospitality program and not having a strong culinary curriculum.”

Palakurthi said the new building will be used for more than just culinary arts.

“That building will be used by the university, it won’t be just culinary,” Palakurthi said. “We will be offering general education classes and dual enrollment classes with high schools. This could be the hub for culinary education in the city.”

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