MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Construction is moving ahead for the upcoming $15 million culinary institute at Horry Georgetown Technical College.
The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach will be a 15,000-square-foot facility that will be at the center of the Myrtle Beach campus.
On Friday, students and faculty got a sneak peek inside the facility as they hosted an appreciation lunch for the Monteith Construction team, the company building the state-of-the-art institute.
Lunch, with all the trimmings, was a gesture to the crew to say 'Thank you' for their diligent efforts.
"This is community driven, and it is something that can do well in the community," said Joe Bonaparte, executive director of the culinary institute.
Bonaparte said the completed institute will be equipped with six teaching kitchens, a pastry shop, a chocolate station, a greenhouse, an auditorium with demonstration cooking stations, a barbecue training center and a restaurant.
That 100-seat restaurant will be an open kitchen, allowing the public to talk and interact with the students as they are cooking, explained Bonaparte.
The culinary institute will also have the latest cooking technology, Bonaparte added. The idea is to create an interactive style of teaching that will raise the level of professionalism for students.
From a design standpoint, the institute is unique. For instance, the conference room is designed on the outside of the building to resemble a chef's hat.
Mozingo and Wallace Architects, LLC, the architectural firm tasked with designing the culinary institute, has previously drawn up plans for several Myrtle Beach area buildings.
Members of the firm said they are pleased with the culinary institute's progress.
Bonaparte said applications at HGTC have increased, as potential students are interested in learning at the new institute, which will cause enrollment to double from 200 to 400.
"We can offer a world-class culinary education for a very affordable price," said Bonaparte.
School officials hope the institute will be a catalyst for the Myrtle Beach area and help showcase the culinary tourism side of Myrtle Beach.
Bonaparte recognizes that the food and restaurants in places like Charleston get most of the attention, but he said the Grand Strand's culinary offerings should not be overlooked.
"There is wonderful food here in Myrtle Beach, all up and down the Grand Strand. The resources we have are great, whether it's farms or fishermen," he said.
Bonaparte wants the culinary institute to be another asset for the community, one that can educate the public about healthy and nutritional foods and cooking.
"We have a lot of space for continuing education classes for the public. We do them now, but we really plan to do a lot more of that with the barbecue training center and with our auditorium demonstration kitchen," he said.
Construction for the building is scheduled to be complete in August 2016 ahead of HGTC's spring semester.