The University of Memphis has begun the process to expand the culinary arts program by leasing L’Ecole Culinaire building in Cordova.
The U of M anticipates the approval of the expansion by the spring semester of 2020. In addition the program 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 U of M, 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. We found out about that shortly thereafter," Flohr said. "At that point we started putting together a plan for expanding our hispitality and management prgram. 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 a pproved 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 for some students may or may not be an issue.
"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. There's a process we would have to go through for that," 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 U of M and students.
"We're really excited, we have an opportunity to have what will be one of the largest culinary schools in the mid-south," Flohr said. "We have a very large building with over 32,000 square feet, eight kitchens, eight classrooms and even dining rooms. We have a great opportunity here to provide a culinary arts curriuclum to the entire community."
Radesh Palakurthi, Dean of Kemmons Wilson Hospitality and Resort Management, said this program will add to an already broad field of study.
"When you say hospitality, it's a very broad field. It includes all sorts of segments like, hotel, food service, cruise lines and tourism. The biggest segment is food service," Palakurthi said. "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. 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 not solely be used for 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. Then we have our own program that we are running. This could be the hub for culinary education in the city."