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New culinary center opens at Santa Rosa Junior College

  • Baking students take their first class in the new $20 million B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center at Santa Rosa Junior College on Tuesday morning.

Santa Rosa Junior College's new Culinary Arts Center debuted Tuesday in the heart of Wine Country, with a full roster of 900 students and a spectacular array of top-of-the-line equipment intended to make it California's premier community college cooking facility.

Ten years in the making, the $20 million center will train a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs for a fraction of the price of most private, culinary schools.

"You don't have this opportunity very often, to be a part of .<TH>.<TH>. building the future and building respect for future chefs," student Sarah Laughlin of Rohnert Park said during a class break.

SRJC Culinary Center Opens

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The two-story, B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center provides four teaching kitchens, three spacious classrooms and a glass staircase overlooking Mendocino Avenue with a bird's-eye view of the oak-studded campus lawn across the street.

"A lot of schools have remodeled spaces, but nobody has anything like this," said Michael Salinger, program coordinator, chairman and instructor of the SRJC Culinary Arts Program. "This is one of a kind in the state."

Named after a third-generation apple grower and long-time SRJC Board of Trustees member, the center was built with bond funds from Measure A, which passed in 2002.

Students got their first look inside the building Tuesday morning when they were taken on a tour before launching into classes.

<NO1><NO><NO1><NO>In the next few weeks, the center gradually will ramp up its public programs, opening the SRJC Bakery next Wednesday and the Culinary Cafe on Feb. 1. Both will be staffed and operated by students getting real-world experience in serving fellow students, faculty and the public.

<NO1><NO>Enrollment for the term was closed by mid-December, after the limit of 900 students signed up for courses in the five certificate programs: culinary arts, baking and pastry, front house operations, dining room service and restaurant management.

The SRJC Culinary Arts certificate programs are affordable when compared to culinary programs at private schools, which charge $50,000 to $70,000 for a two-year education.


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