Page 36 - BusinessWest December 12, 2022
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 tial competencies they need to become success- ful line cooks: knife skills; how to prepare stocks, soups, sauces, desserts, poultry, fish, and meat; culinary math and measurements; moist- and dry-heat cooking methods; as well as workplace soft skills, such as building a résumé and present- ing themselves at job interviews.
Maria Moreno Contreras, a culinary instruc- tor who was administering a midterm test to one of those classes the day BusinessWest visited, said some participants are already in the industry and want to upgrade their skills, while others are
“This is better than they would see in most industry kitchens; they can learn on the best equipment possible.”
exploring a possible new career in a high-demand field.
“With the non-credit training, many of them getting ready to get a very entry-level job, or it’s exploratory to see if they even want to go there,” Leigh said. “Their endgame is to get a job — but that’s everyone’s endgame here.”
Rolling Along
Five years since opening its new headquarters, HCC’s Culinary Arts program is evolving in some intriguing ways. For instance, it was awarded a $147,000 Skills Capital Grant by the state to pur- chase a truck that will be used as a mobile kitchen
for community outreach and education.
“The mobile kitchen has noth- ing to do with raising income,” Leigh said, noting that it’s not going to set up on the corner and sell tacos. The main purpose is to engage the community while giv- ing students experience in food- truck operations.
According to the award let-
ter, HCC will use the $147,000 to purchase and outfit a mobile food lab that will support both credit and non-credit culinary-arts pro- grams and also incorporate other areas of study, including nutrition, health, business, and entrepre- neurship. HCC’s grant application notes that residents of Holyoke face a high level of food insecurity and that downtown Holyoke has been identified as a ‘food desert.’
“HCC will deploy the truck to
bring food to neighborhoods of
downtown Holyoke,” HCC wrote
in its application. In addition, the
college plans to connect this proj-
ect to its downtown Freight Farms
initiative with a focus on basic nutrition, local produce, and healthy eating.
Leigh envisions using the mobile food lab to engage community partners such as the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club and area food pantries. Stu- dents will meet with representatives from area organizations to create menus based on ingredi- ents of their choice or what might be seasonally
Maureen Hindle says the state- of-the-art facilities
are a far cry from what she used as a student more than a decade ago.
Food trucks are one way to enter the industry
more inexpensively than opening a brick-and- mortar restaurant, he added, citing the example of HCC culinary arts alumna Nicole Ortiz, who wrote a letter in support of the grant and started her own culinary
 career with her Crave food-truck
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