HSHP’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management enjoys new, upscale home
HSHP’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management enjoys new, upscale homeSeptember 20, 2006Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
Something’s cooking on the second and third floors of Lyman Hall — creating a feast for the eyes of students and faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. The recipe includes $2.25 million worth of renovations, sprinkled with the latest professional-grade equipment and facilities.
“Now, we have the facilities to match our level of faculty expertise,” says Norm Faiola, associate dean of administration and space and associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management in the College of Human Services and Health Professions. “What we’ve done is the equivalent of transforming a 1950s home-economics classroom into the Starship Enterprise. We are light-years ahead of where we were. We’ve emulated industry standards, which are very high.”
After consulting with food and hospitality industry professionals and visiting other campuses, department members planned out their ideal facilities, which have moved from the basement of Slocum Hall to the adjacent Lyman Hall. Their work resulted in the creation of top-notch kitchens and service areas comparable to the finest restaurants and culinary schools.
One of two kitchens that will be used by all students in the department, the commercial kitchen adjoins a 40-seat dining room. The kitchen features a hot food preparation area with Viking stainless steel convection ovens and a double Combi Oven, capable of conventional and convection baking in addition to steaming, as well as a cold preparation area and pick-up. The room is equipped with tile floors and built-in drains for easy clean up.
“This was designed like a real a-la-carte kitchen, so we can train our students in a facility setup similar to the top-notch restaurants and resorts and on the type of equipment they’ll work with in the professional world,” Faiola says. A separate clean-up room exposes students to industrial grade dishwashers and sanitation procedures.
The dining room provides guests with more natural light and scenery than the former subterranean dining area in Slocum. Windows along the western and northern walls usher in daylight and offer views of trees and greenery below.
“It’s a very comfortable space and is so beautiful,” says Kay Stearns Bruening, associate professor and department chair. “There’s also a service station behind a partitioned wall with a chalkboard, so our students can write menus and notes about the service at the tables.” The second-floor facilities also include a wine room for storage and preparation and a pantry, which contains basic cooking ingredients, refrigerators, portable dish and preparation carts, a washer and dryer, and a mop sink. “These rooms enable us to be more organized and to teach courses in a more efficient and effective way,” Bruening says.
Perhaps one of the most advanced new areas is the experimental kitchen. Upon entry, students and chefs use a hand sink at the doorway, a standard feature of most professional kitchens. Ten workstations — each with its own stainless steel sink, cabinets and counter areas — comfortably fit 20 students, who cook foods in smaller quantities to experiment with recipes and methods of preparation. The students learn from chefs who teach from a portable workstation located centrally in the kitchen and whose every move is broadcast onto 10 LCD monitors that are mounted at each student workstation. The chefs can also post the day’s recipe from their laptops onto the students’ screens. The chef camera broadcasts a live feed to a large LCD monitor in front of the department’s office on the third floor so prospective students and other visitors can watch a class in progress.
The kitchen also has an accessible workstation with lower countertops and conduction ranges for students who use wheelchairs. The kitchen contains a mix of standard ranges with ceiling ventilation and self-contained ranges with hoods that remove grease, food and smoke through three filters. Other perks of the new space include overhead sprayers to clean vegetables and air conditioning.
“We’re very excited about this move,” Bruening says. “Americans eat more and more of their meals away from home, so the food industry has just grown at every level. Our program is growing as well.”
In 1989, there were seven students in the hospitality program. This fall, 40 new students are beginning their studies in a department of more than 200 students. A second phase of construction is expected to begin in a few years that will include an expansion of the commercial kitchen and the addition of 60 more seats to the dining room. “Exciting things are happening in our department,” Bruening says. “We hope to add study abroad programs in nutrition and hospitality management soon, and we’re forging new partnerships with the Genesee Grande Hotel and Phoebe’s Restaurant in Syracuse. These new facilities will enhance our programs and allow us to better prepare students to enter the professional world.”