by NICOLE LOPEZ//Sports Editor
The smell of success is in the air as South Plains College plans to offer a new degree program starting next year.
Culinary Technology will be available in the Fall of 2018, with new facilities being built at the Lubbock Center campus.
According to Patrick Ramsey, executive chef, the program was first discussed five years ago by Rob Blair, dean of Technical Education.
“About two years ago, Title V and some of other funding came through, which became more of a reality,” explains Ramsey. “That’s when they hired me and Natalie to come out and make it a reality.”
Natalie Osuna, Culinary Arts program developer, says she and Ramsey started working with SPC in June to create the plans for the culinary program.
“The plans for culinary have been developed and approved,” says Osuna. “So we’re just waiting to break ground on this facility and also the course outline. We should be meeting with the advisory committee in a few weeks to have the outline approved.”
Osuna says the culinary program is going to be the only program in West Texas of its kind. SPC’s program is unique because of the facilities associated with the program
“The closest one that offers an associate’s degree is Odessa College, but their facilities are totally different than ours,” says Osuna. “We’re really proud of the design we have come up with as far as facilities go, because we feel that’s a step above anywhere else.”
Ramsey explains the labs and facilities associated with the culinary program are purpose-based designs, meaning they designed the kitchens and the classrooms to be very representative of real- world experiences.
“We’re trying to give them the real-world experience,” explains Ramsey, “an education that will enable them to do better in the real world. We’re exposing them to the noise when cooking and all the good things that go around in the kitchen.”
According to Osuna, SPC and the surrounding areas of Lubbock are excited about the program. She also points out it is necessary and very much in demand because of all the restaurants in the region.
Ramsey says that as Lubbock hits the 250,000 mark in population, that’s a benchmark for hotels, restaurants and food chains.
“As Texas Tech starts to grow, and the community gets bigger and bigger, and with the chain restaurants, the culinary degrees are going to exist here,” explains Ramsey. “It’s going to grow exponentially.”
Ramsey explains the culinary program won’t be focusing on just cooking, Even though the program is focused on culinary, it’s also geared to give students a good career.
“They will be walking out with a degree that no one can take away from them,” says Ramsey. “But also besides the cooking arts and stuff, we’ll be exposing them to all aspects, such as looking for jobs in the culinary arts program from management to grocery stories, bakeries and wedding cake designs.”
The culinary program will be taking students from an entry-level position and taking them through the culinary technology they need to receive their certificate. The degree plan will offer a basic certificate after two semesters are completed and an advanced certificate after four semesters.
“Of course, if a student wants to get their core courses accomplished as well, that will result in an associate’s degree of applied science,” explains Osuna. “Patrick and I will be teaching. When we start up, we foresee hiring another person. But as the program develops, our whole faculty for culinary should be six professors.”
Every fall, 48 students will be accepted into the program, with a student-to-professor ratio of 16-to-1.
“When these kids get out of here their second year, they’ll have a pretty good tool box to continue on in the culinary field and pursue a career job,” says Ramsey. “We also want to enlighten them in the other aspects that exist out there in the food industry. Nobody is going to be a chef when they come out of the courses. Nobody is a chef when they get out of any culinary school, despite what they think. They can choose to take their career at any path that they want.”