KNOXVILLE — Combine instructors and facilities from the Culinary Institute at the University of Tennessee with 46 students enrolled in the new concentration in culinary arts at Pellissippi State Community College….
The result is what officials believe to be a first-of-its-kind partnership between a UT institution and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) institution.
“This is truly a win-win situation because our two institutions needed each other,” said Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. “We had the facilities and the instructors, but they were being underused; Pellissippi State had the students who wanted to study culinary arts, but no kitchen facilities for hands-on instruction.”
Offered for the first time this fall, Pellissippi State’s culinary arts classes were at capacity before the semester began on Aug. 28. There are 46 students enrolled, spanning in age from 16 to 56. Student interests range from professional chef to specialty baker, as well as caterer, food event planner and bed-and-breakfast operator.
The youngest student, Sam Price, is still in high school. He is enrolled in Pellissippi State’s dual enrollment program, which allows students to simultaneously earn credit in approved courses that satisfy both high school and college graduation requirements.
“It will be awesome to be one of the first to graduate from the program,” Price said. “I love food, love the area. The classes will be a great stepping stone to culinary arts or toward starting my own restaurant.”
Price is especially interested in “the spicy, bright and flavorful” foods such as Caribbean, Southwestern and “some” Thai.
Another student, Mike Noble, grew up in a restaurant family and is excited to begin the more formal training offered through Pellissippi State and UT.
“My grandpa started teaching me when I was seven years old,” Noble said. “He built wooden risers for me so I could reach the counter at his restaurant, and he taught me how to hold a knife correctly. I’ve been waiting a long time — and I think this city has been waiting — for a program like this. I know a lot, but this will solidify what I do know.”
The Knoxville native, who returned after having lived in New York City, Portland, Ore., and Nashville, already has ideas for three restaurant concepts that he would like to open. He plans to do so in Knoxville.
Through the partnership, Pellissippi State students complete their classroom instruction at Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus. They also spend four hours a day, three days a week, honing their culinary skills in the state-of-the-art laboratory kitchen at UT’s Culinary Institute on Neyland Drive. A distance of only two miles separates the two facilities.
The Culinary Institute is housed in the former Faculty Club, which was renovated two years ago to include an instructional lab/kitchen offering more space and equipment than a production kitchen. Video instructional technology is available throughout the lab/kitchen. Local chefs with American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification teach the classes.
Professor and longtime chef John Antun, the Culinary Institute’s founding director, oversees the UT component of the new degree. Born into a New York City restaurant family, Antun has 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He has owned and operated four successful restaurants in the New York metropolitan area.
“Placement of our UT culinary students has been 100 percent,” Antun said. “I use working chefs to teach in the Culinary Institute, and they’re always looking for help.”
The new program was born out of the friendship and working relationship between Antun and Tom Gaddis, coordinator of Pellissippi State’s hospitality program. Pellissippi State has offered a hospitality program for 12 years. Gaddis is a two-time graduate of UT’s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism program and has served on the advisory board for 14 years. Gaddis holds a master’s degree in human ecology with a concentration in tourism, food and lodging, as well as a doctorate in human ecology with a concentration in hotel and restaurant administration.
“Pellissippi State’s new culinary arts concentration is the first official partnership between a TBR school and a UT campus,” Gaddis said. “That is very exciting.”
Graduates will certify through the National Restaurant Association in nutrition, food production and sanitation. They can apply to the American Culinary Federation to become Certified Culinarians, the first step toward professional chef certification.
Students who complete Pellissippi State’s two-year program will receive an associate of applied science degree with a major in business administration and concentration in culinary arts. A total of 61 credit hours are required.
Rider said the UT-Pellissippi State partnership helps UT fulfill its land-grant mission to provide education for all Tennesseans. It promotes goodwill between the institutions and helps provide a stream of qualified cooks for the area. It generates some tuition revenue for UT and keeps the lab kitchen in use from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. three days a week. Also, the partnership will help UT recruit students, since many of the Pellissippi State students are expected to transfer to UT to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
For additional information on the UT Culinary Institute, contact Antun at 865-974- 3732 or Antun@utk.edu. For more information about Pellissippi State’s culinary arts or hospitality concentrations, contact Gaddis at 865-971-5246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
C O N T A C T :
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, email@example.com)