BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nicholls State University lifted the lid on their brand new culinary arts building with a grand opening on Thursday.
The 33,000-square-foot facility is the product of a three-year, $12.6 million project designed to boost enrollment at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. The new building also aims to give students access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology to simulate real-life working environments.
The building, named the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts building, is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms, and a dedicated study area including charging stations, cookbooks, and reference materials. The building also houses its own student-operated restaurant, named Bistro Ruth.
The grand opening ceremony featured statements and speeches by University President Bruce Murphy, Chef John Folse, Louisiana Senator Norby Chabert, and Thibodaux Mayor Tommy Eschete.
"We've waited a long time for this," says Chef Randy Cheramie. "How thrilling it is to finally have a first-class, state-of-the-art facility in which to teach not only classical cooking skills and food management practices, but to also have this wonderful space in which to teach the history and tradition of South Louisiana culture and cuisine."
Prior to moving into their own building, the culinary department shared Gouaux Hall with the university's Biology department.
Emily Johnson, a senior with the culinary program, hopes that the next generation of students will blossom with all of the opportunities the new building will provide. "The hospitality industry is huge," said Johnson. "Every kitchen in the industry is different, and instructors are now better prepared to teach students the ways of the world."
Prior to moving into their own building, the culinary department shared Gouaux Hall with the Biology department.
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is currently the only four-year culinary arts degree program in Louisiana.