SAIT chefs providing a five star education at innovative new campus
Located on the second floor of the Scotia Centre, the new 10,000 square foot space offers students practical experience working in a commercial setting, while raising awareness and garnering prestige for SAIT and its School of Hospitality and Tourism.
The new facility, which opened Sept. 12, boasts an all-star team of chefs, including Michael Dekker, Georg Windisch, Ian Cowley, Rolf Runkel, and Rupert Kaupp.
Each works closely with students attending the satellite campus, offering an intimate learning environment where the masters of cuisine can impart their wisdom.
“Most students around 20 to 21-years-old couldn’t open up a restaurant like this,” said Graeme Vandam, a professional cooking student working the rotisserie.
Within the walls, students prepare a variety of tantalizing fare — offerings at the time of The Weal’s visit included quarter chickens, lamb, curry, and chicken tortellini in lobster sauce as well as an assortment of artisan sandwiches for the discerning vegetarian.
The bakery had a delicious assortment of gourmet pastries, including mini apple tarts, as well as an ever-changing variety of decadent chocolate desserts.
The gathering crowd was as interested in taking pictures with their camera phones as they were in devouring a meal. Averaging 450 customers per day, things down at the new non-profit facility are already in full swing.
According to school of hospitality and tourism academic chair Rupert Kaupp, turnout on Sept. 14 was nearly double that of the opening Wednesday.
From the second visitors walk through the doors, they can almost forget the SAIT Culinary Campus is just that, a school campus.
Second-year students of SAIT’s Professional Cooking program move with the efficiency of any downtown cook. The chefs overseeing the pupils occasionally join in, demonstrating a technique or offering insight, while the students prepare their gourmet fare.
While anyone is welcome, the SAIT Culinary Campus has tailored their services to be aimed at the downtown nine-to-five crowd. In addition to lunch, they offer a 45-minute “rush hour” cooking course, in which patrons come in, are taught how to cook a gourmet meal using simple ingredients, pick those ingredients up, then go home and cook it—all while skipping rush hour traffic.
According to Kaupp, the new campus also adds 16 new seats each to the Professional Cooking program and Baking and Pastry Arts programs, allowing more students who would otherwise be wait-listed to the program. Students are rotated between the downtown and main campuses to give them experience in the new space.