he International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach is on track to open by August 2016. The new $15 million, 30,000-square-foot building is located at the corner of Pampas Drive and Crabtree Lane on the HGTC Grand Strand campus.JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

BY CLAIRE BYUN

cbyun@thesunnews.com

The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach is on track to open by August at Horry Georgetown Technical College, and officials say the new building will reflect the college’s modernized culinary arts curriculum.

The new $15 million, 30,000-square-foot building is at the corner of Pampas Drive and Crabtree Lane on the HGTC Grand Strand campus. New amenities will include a chef’s bar, a 10-seat chef’s table, an open teaching kitchen, a wood-burning oven and grill, a pastry kitchen, a bakery, and classroom space for students.

THE LEVEL OF TEACHING, WHAT THE STUDENTS ARE DOING HERE, IT’S AMAZING.

Joe Bonaparte, HGTC chef and culinary arts instructor

The new building will also house an updated Fowler Dining Room with seating for about 100 people.

Neil McCoy, executive director of capital improvements for HGTC, said construction is on schedule and the institute is expected to open in time for August classes. Construction was scheduled for 14 months, McCoy said, and there hasn’t been any major delays.

“The rain put us back a little bit, but we’re back on track now,” he said.

Most of the exterior is built up and crews are working on interior walls and “roughing up the plumbing and mechanical” parts of the building, McCoy said.

The culinary institute will also have an outdoor grilling patio where students can learn four outdoor cooking methods with state-of-the-art equipment, according to Chef Joe Bonaparte, who took over HGTC’s culinary program about two years ago.

Students will even have the chance to run a greenhouse for plants used in their cooking, he said.

“It’s going to be very beautiful,” Bonaparte said. “It’s not like schools I’ve been associated with before, it’s simply amazing.”

Bonaparte said the best thing about the new school is that HGTC students will have a quality facility that matches the modern curriculum developed by staff over the years. Six teaching kitchens, a small auditorium and the wood-burning oven will give future and current students everything they need to succeed in the culinary industry, he said.

$15 millionCost of the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach

Staff and faculty are also learning new techniques and keeping up with the latest culinary developments to ensure HGTC students are paying for the most up-to-date curriculum.

“We’re developing definitely a curriculum that’s on par with what any school is doing across the country and we’ll have the facility to match that,” Bonaparte said.

Because the new building will have a kitchen designed around teaching – unlike most of the current classrooms – the program will be much more cohesive. Technology will also play a larger part in every class.

“It’s going to allow the class to have more space, to really function in a more efficient manner,” Bonaparte said.

Though having a fancy building can draw students to the program, Bonaparte said providing quality education is what will grow the program over time. HGTC’s culinary track usually enrolls between 130 and 180 students, but officials hope the bigger facility will entice about 500 students into a culinary career.

THEY’RE MAKING GOOD PROGRESS, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THERE WAS 40 DAYS OF RAIN SINCE THEY STARTED. I WALKED THROUGH IT ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGO, AND THE AMOUNT OF PROGRESS THEY’VE MADE IS AMAZING.

Joe Bonaparte, HGTC chef and culinary arts instructor

The top-notch equipment and increased space will probably lead to more graduate certificates and continuing education classes, Bonaparte said.

The $15 million investment by the college, and general support of the Horry County community, is what gives Bonaparte the motivation to provide a state-of-the-art education to future chefs.

“We feel that obligation to the community and college, and we’re going to perform at a high level to match the investment of the college and expectations of the community,” he said.

Claire Byun: 843-626-0381, @Claire_TSN


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