I blogged through two and a half years of Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School, and if you followed along, I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as I did. Thanks to an incredible faculty and staff making the most of non-optimal facilities, my education there was an incredibly rewarding experience.
If, by chance, this humble blog encouraged you to attend the school, I must admit being more than a little jealous. Those starting now will at least graduate from an incredible new Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Center, for which I recently got to see some detailed plans by Taggart Architects.
Be ready to wait a bit, though, if you are applying now. Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School is currently maxed out at about 500 students, many of whom work on finishing their general education requirements while waiting on room in the hands-on classes. And as the food and travel business gets more popular, I imagine the program will remain at maximum capacity for the foreseeable future.
Director Todd Gold doesn’t plan to expand the program’s numbers just yet, however, saying at a recent advisory board meeting that he’d rather have quality over quantity while they grow into the new facility.
They will, however, be able to move more students into hands-on classes more quickly, having more room to place them. The only prerequisite for culinary courses will be any needed developmental courses in math or English. And as having done plenty of culinary math and business writing in culinary classes, I can testify that requiring this baseline is a good thing.
You may not know that the school began as a humble apprenticeship program inside the facilities of Performance Food Group (PFG), a Little Rock food wholesaler, with three or four students at a time. When enrollment outgrew the facilities, Pulaski Tech offered to buy out the program. The college had little time to find or build proper space for the program, putting our cooking stations in what was basically the back hallway of the current café at the South Campus on Interstate 30. It worked, but as the program soared, so did the imaginations of those in charge.
As I outlined in an earlier post, the new facility will include a fully-refrigerated meat butchering room, several large hands-on cooking classrooms and a candies and chocolate area. Newer developments include a hotel room and front desk to simulate hospitality situations, as well as use of the theater-style demonstration kitchen (second image above) for weekend community classes for those not ready for a college commitment.
I’m personally very excited about the community school, or whatever it’s going to be called, and I hope to be involved in this area of instruction. If you want to learn how to make a soufflé on a Saturday, then be free to brag about it at work on Monday, this will be the place.
More details will come about over time, I’m sure, as the program’s leadership develops this new phase in the life of our school. The last part of the advisory committee meeting involved projects, partnerships and such to consider once they’re settled in.
I hope you’ll come along.