“The Strategic Plan called for non-traditional arts programming to attract new students and revenue,” said Ken Hannon, Vice President and COO. “There was concern that ‘food as art’ wasn’t part of our mission. There were also those who thought it was the next great step for the organization, given the ongoing popularity of cooking online and on television. The University of Tampa reached out to us with their program for helping non-profits to develop programming, add revenues and develop a business plan.”
above right: Participants enjoy the products of a class by The Restorative Chefs Cricket and Jason Borajkiewicz
We realized that we were not experts in the planning of a first-class culinary teaching facility and program, so we enlisted the help of Ted Barber of Theodore Barber & Company in Clearwater. The company has consulted and designed on an international level for restaurants, bars and commercial kitchens for hotels, resorts, convention centers, sports facilities, casinos and more. Additionally, the construction of a utility-intense studio in a continuously occupied building, with daytime and evening classes, presented serious challenges.
above left: Dining and observation tables
above right: View of the studio from the Chef's station; 220-volt electric cords hanging from reels provide power anywhere in the studio
The studio includes a chef’s station with commercial range and oven, overhead cameras and two 80” monitors for demonstrations and video production. The most unique feature of the facility is the six mobile workstations for students that move on castors, powered with 220-volt overhead cords and reels. The custom-built units each include an electric range top, large preparation surface, storage space and a built-in exhaust system that takes the place of an overhead hood. Household convection ovens also keep learning within the reach of home cooking. Program and facility comply with all Health Department standards.
above right: Chef's station commercial gas range and oven
“The Food Arts program has great potential to build partnerships on a variety of levels,” said Hannon. “It fits in so many ways with what we are currently doing. DFAC’s Sterling Society has successfully conducted numerous art travel tours and we believe travel trips featuring food have great potential. The studio’s serving dishes, bowls and cups were made by our students in our ceramics program. Our fiber arts program can potentially provide creative textiles for use in dining and cooking. Our offsite knife forging program can make creative tools for cooking and dining. Food is the oldest still life subject in the world! Photography featuring the visual appeal of food presentation can link to our photography program in creating imagery for exhibitions.”
“Chefs Cricket and Jason Borajkiewicz from The Restorative, an award-winning Dunedin restaurant, offered a recent class at the Food Arts studio in Sous Vide (cooking meat sealed in bags in boiling water before searing). This provided an opportunity for people who are interested in great food to gather. Those people get new cooking ideas and an introduction to the restaurant and the chefs. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Hannon. The Restorative was named Creative Loafing’s Critic's Choice Best of the Bay (BOTB) 2017 Best Chefs; Critic's Choice BOTB 2017 Best New Restaurant; Critic's Choice BOTB 2018 Best Restaurant; among other Tampa Bay area awards.
top right: Scullery washing area
above: Scullery inventory of cooking equipment
“Everyone is comfortable in the kitchen,” said Hannon. “The Food Arts program builds a sense of camaraderie through the shared experience of chefs demonstrating and everyone learning, cooking and sitting down to eat. In the long-standing reputation of the center as a community hub, the kitchen could become the heart of DFAC.”
An extensive schedule of weekly classes can be found on DFAC’s website for creating the food of other cultures and for pot recipes, soups, vegetables, baked goods, creative chicken and much more on a weekly basis. Go to www.dfac.org.