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MC Weekly

November 13, 2013

Cooking cadets

New culinary program at Ivy Tech in Peru prepares students for competitive job market.

The hallway slowly filled with the aroma of fresh-cut onions, boiling red peppers, fried butter and the sharp scent of spices.

It smelled as if you were walking into the kitchen at a high-class restaurant, but it wasn’t quite that. The aroma wafted from the kitchen at the Ivy Tech instructional site in Peru.

Inside, students ranging from 19 to 67 years old cut up veggies, blended ingredients and boiled broths as they cooked up chicken-sausage gumbo, French-onion soup and gazpacho.

It was all part of a lesson in making mouth-watering soups and sauces.

Culinary instructor Liz Kirk kicked off the cooking session by demonstrating how to make roux, a thickening agent used in sauces.

“You want to heat up a fat,” she said, standing over the stove as the class gathered around her. “I’m using butter. You could use oil or bacon fat. It just depends on the type of flavor you want.”

Every Thursday since August, eight students have went on culinary explorations with Kirk in a class called "basic food theory and skills".

The cooking sessions are part of a 16-credit-hour academic certificate in hospitality administration — one of the first certificate programs ever offered at the Ivy Tech satellite branch in Peru.

The community college started offering the certificate this year after Ken Licklider, owner of Vohne Liche Kennels near Denver, Ind., donated nearly $75,000 last year to furnish the college with a culinary arts lab and a classroom.

The money helped buy new stoves and sinks. A large pantry area near the kitchen is stocked with spices, herbs, meats, cheeses and everything else needed to whip up tasty recipes.

The school had wanted to offer culinary classes since 2006, but couldn’t afford to renovate the kitchen that had once fed young kids when the building served as an elementary school.

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