COLUMBUS, OH -- The restaurant industry is booming in Ohio---generating 18 billion a year in salaries and wages alone. Columbus State Community College plays a major part in educating the chefs and hospitality leaders of their future with their nationally ranked programs. But this year they're taking things to a whole new level with their state of the art Culinary building opening for students this fall, a major upgrade from their current space.
“Well we’ve been trying to get us out of the basement of this building since we started in 1963."
A space the Columbus State students and staff have more than outgrown over the last 50 plus years. Executive director of hospitality programs, Jim Taylor, has been here from the beginning and says this new venture came to fruition after many years of ideas, getting the backing of the school's president, as well as the backing of a name known well in the central Ohio restaurant scene and across the country. Renowned restaurant owner and Columbus native--- Cameron Mitchell.
Mitchell has long been involved with the school and is huge backer of the new facility, donating a large amount from his own pocket, hence the name "Mitchell Hall".
School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts Director, Josh Wickham, has also been on the ground floor as an accomplished chef and teacher in Columbus and graduate of the program, he took us through the details of the space and what students and patrons can expect.
“Mitchell Hall will be about 85,000 square feet, all functional space. We have a full service restaurant it seats about 100 people, there will be a fully functional cafe bake shop, there will be gourmet coffee selections, barista training..the whole bit. A lot of in-house made pastries and baked goods," Wickham explained. "
One of the things I’m most excited about is we have a culinary theatre that seats about 100 people in the stadium style seating, we could probably put another 30-40 on the stage, but that’s going to be a really hot spot for our recreational programs and a lot of our classes that will be open to the public. We have a banquet facility in the middle of the building on the second floor it will seat about 450 people and then on our top floor we have four state-of-the-art kitchens, one of which is a specific pastry kitchen. It’s built for just pastry arts, and then we have a mixology lab.”
It took blending many components to come up with this winning recipe.
“The initial development team--they traveled all over the country--and they went to a lot of benchmark institutions to really see who’s doing this, who does it best, and how are they doing it and they came back and they were really open and gracious with the faculty and they invited all of us in to talk about what we thought it needed. So it was really, we went out, we saw what the standard was and we brought it home and said now how do we do it and how do we do it best?” Wickham told us.
The standard is also being raised for the amount of students they can accept into the school, as the size of the building will be able to open its door to about 1,500 aspiring chefs each year.
With the hope Columbus State can give them the tools to flourish in an ever growing and booming industry.
“Not just culinary arts but hospitality as the big picture because we always say when you talk culinary it’s only one piece of the experience and what this does is it allows us to kind of come from every angle. The one thing I keep saying to myself about this building is…come to Mitchell Hall and be received…no one will be lost in this space.”
The building will be open for the staff this July and the first classes for both curriculum credit and ones open to the public will begin in august. The restaurant, bakery and entire facility will be fully up and running by start of 2020.