The USFSM Culinary Lab is a turn-key, hands-on facility that is fully equipped as a hub for sharing food and beverage industry knowledge and information. Part of the growing College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, it connects USFSM and the community in the art and science of food preparation and delivery, through cooking demonstrations, catering of signature university events and custom designed classes. It is a laboratory for innovation and learning, including food sustainability and resource research.
Goals for the culinary center include:
- Education of USFSM students. To be good restaurant managers, students must master the “back of the house” skills that put theory into practice in a successful business operation. Hospitality Management students who take classes at the facility are exposed to a real food and beverage environment emphasizing a business and industry leadership perspective.
- Hands-On Experience. This designated space allows hospitality students to cater signature USFSM special events. In the future, on a limited basis, they will also participate in custom designed cooking classes and the planning and execution of special events for the community.
- A gateway setting. The Culinary Innovation Lab is the perfect setting and location for community outreach. The larger community can engage with USFSM students and faculty and learn more about our dynamic College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership. The space will be available for use by community partners for select events and food and wine gatherings.
- Food production strategies
- Recipe execution
- Menu development
- Flavor profiling
- Wine tasting
- Event planning
- Sanitation strategies
- The restaurant purchasing cycle
- Staff and employee management, etc.
Courses are taught by USFSM faculty and guest chefs from around the world, including the CHTL’s global exchange students from Taiwan, Germany, Brazil, France, Italy, etc.
Previously, the CHTL used Publix’s Aprons cooking school and the Manatee Technical Institute kitchen facilities for its intro to Food Prep class. With enrollment growing past 200 in the Hospitality Management program, there was a need for hospitality management majors to have regular access to a culinary space where they could learn restaurant management, event management and how to “cook, analyze and execute” a successful operation. The culinary center is equipped with a state-of-the-art A/V recording system that will enhance the overall learning experience for students.
USFSM instructor and chef Joe Askren serves as director of the Culinary Innovation Lab. Chef Garry Colpitts is culinary services manager.