New Northern Essex Culinary Arts Center to Prepare Students for Commercial Kitchen Jobs

Never-before-seen views of the Merrimack River provide a backdrop as developer Salvator N. Lupoli, right, talks with college President Lane A. Glenn and Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program Manager Denis Boucher. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Expansive views of the Merrimack River, nine kitchens, six classrooms and much high-tech greeted those getting a first look yesterday at Northern Essex Community College’s new downtown culinary arts center.

Led by developer Salvatore N. Lupoli and Northern Essex President Lane Glenn, the media and guests toured “The Heights,” the 10-story mixed-use glass tower now under construction. Besides pointing out physical facilities, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program Manager Denis Boucher discussed the philosophy behind the showcase kitchens.

“We’re going to try to use as many local as we can, but we’re going to have to go a little bit further out as we see that we can’t get product from the local farmers,” he said,

Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program Manager Denis Boucher and college President Lane A. Glenn tour the construction site. (WHAV News photograph.)

Boucher previously taught nine and a half years at New England Culinary Institute, Vermont, founding father of the Vermont Fresh Network which connected farms to restaurateurs and chefs.

Northern Essex will occupy two floors of the building with one floor housing classrooms, computer lab, shared conference room and the college’s administration of the MassHire job training and employment office. Upstairs, there are nine kitchens—four available for rent to food entrepreneurs and incubator businesses, multipurpose room, walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer, dish room, culinary lab, dry goods storage and two more classrooms. Boucher emphasized the purpose of the program is prepare students for in-demand jobs.

“It’s a certificate program, but the classes are geared toward the industry. We want to make sure that we’re producing students that are ready for a commercial kitchen and not a home kitchen,” he explained.

As to prove his point, Boucher noted these kitchens will have pivoting cameras directing stovetop views and instructor training to 65-inch television screens. He said the days of using mirrors to show demonstrations are “long gone.” And, job opportunities abound. “Diners, nice restaurants, fine dining restaurants, local farm-to-table restaurants, food service in hospitals. It depends on where they want to go. We’re going to give them the basic skills necessary for any chef to be successful.”

Tours of the future Salvatore’s restaurant, top floor sky bar and apartments also took place.

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