CMU to build commercial food prep training center

An outdated home economics lab in Central Michigan University’s Wightman Hall is set to become a modern, state-of-the-art commercial food preparation training center.

Construction of the Allen Foundation Culinary Nutrition Center is scheduled to begin at the end of the spring semester next year and expected to open in the fall semester of 2020.

Jeffrey Fisher, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, helped design the facility. He calls the current home economics lab antiquated and outdated, its peach formica countertops and homestyle ovens relics of the twentieth century.

"Originally the lab was designed as a Home Ec lab for food preparation in the home," Fisher says.

"We’re changing the lab to better prepare students for commercial prep."

The updates, he says, are necessary for the program to receive national accreditation.

The Culinary Nutrition Center will expand student capacity from 16 to 24 students, opening things up by incorporating student seating into the actual lab stations. The new lab stations will feature commercial six-burner gas stoves.

A teacher’s demonstration station will be connected with audio and video capabilities, which will then be piped throughout the classroom.

The lab will feature more equipment that students can expect to find in the workplace, like the blast chiller, a commercial refrigerator that reduces food temperatures quickly so as to eliminate the risk of foodborne pathogens. There is an emphasis on food safety throughout the new laboratory.

"Food prep and cooking are directly related to improving people’s eating habits. If students are going to get jobs after school they need to be able to translate the science they’re learning in class into a language that people understand," Fisher says.

"Cooking is one way to improve consumer behavior."

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