New Culinary Arts building construction begins

Jessie De La O, Staff Writer

The Culinary Arts Department is set to expand into a brand new facility opening December 2011.

The new B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center will include a café, classrooms, offices, a retail bakery, and a wine library and be located on Mendocino Avenue across from SRJC.

“[I’m] very excited!” said Michael Salinger, chair of the SRJC Consumer and Family Studies Department. “The new building will have four times the amount of space we currently have. It will provide easier access to students for school services and will also provide more food services to the public. We’re hoping to get a much bigger audience at our bakery and café.”

The budget for the Burdo Center, which will honor the still-sitting board member, will cost $20 million and is being funded by the Measure A Bond. The 20-month construction project for the new 22,000-square-foot building began in late March 2010 and is scheduled for completion in December 2011. It will be ready to open in time for spring classes in January 2012.

“Right now our program is impacted,” Salinger said. “We’re hoping to accommodate more students at the new location. Ultimately, our goal is to expand more certificate offerings—about five to six certificates—in Vegetarian, Catering, Butchery, Cake Decorating, Bread Baking and Confectionary. However, because of budgetary concerns, it’s still debatable at this point.”

Currently, introductory courses are held at Garcia Hall, while production courses are offered at the Culinary Arts Center at Brickyard. The 5,500-square-foot facility is home to the SRJC’s Culinary Café and Bakery, and it’s here that students receive hands-on training working in a commercial kitchen, retail bakery and restaurant. The production portion of the Culinary Arts program has been located downtown at the Brickyard Center since January 2003, when it outgrew its original location at Garcia Hall. In the new location, the café and bakery will continue to be open to the general public.

“It will be a two-story structure with a brick exterior and tiled roof, keeping with the architectural heritage of the campus and to fit with the Pioneer, Doyle and Bertolini buildings,” said Tony Ichsan, dean of facilities planning and operations at SRJC.

On the first floor of the new B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center “there will be a retail bakery and culinary café—which is a dining facility that is rather popular among patrons because of the quality and uniqueness of the food, and of their prices. It’s very palatable. Students here get an opportunity to try out different dishes. And there will also be a (demonstration) café kitchen,” Ichsan said.

The downstairs will also have a wine library and a classroom, which will be used for food pairings. Outside there will be a courtyard with a barbecue patio area and pizza oven.

On the second floor, there will be another teaching kitchen, two classrooms and faculty offices. Altogether, there will be a total of five teaching kitchens where culinary and hospitality students will learn to manage and operate a working dining establishment.

Like with most new buildings, the new Culinary Arts building will be implementing sustainability initiatives in adherence to district code. Planners look at various opportunities for utilizing cost-saving methods that can be used throughout the entire building. For example, they will be looking at recycled building material for the carpet.

The plan is for the building’s energy requirements to be at least 5 to 10 percent below standard energy requirements. The building will try to maintain the darkness of the evening sky, so that exterior lights won’t shine into the sky. Restrooms will have low flow fixtures. The design will also focus on exterior lighting with a main glass stairwell facing Mendocino Avenue, which will bring in a lot of natural light.

All Culinary Arts courses will be held in the new B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center building. No decision has been made yet whether some classes will continue to be held at Garcia Hall.