RCC Culinary school moves to Nyack

New RCC Student Culinary Center To Benefit Area Businesses

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Facets Of Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center Can Be Used By Outside Entities

By Tina Traster

The $3.5 million transformation of the main and lower floors of the 1907 former O&R building on the corner of Main and Broadway in Nyack will not only benefit Rockland Community College’s culinary students, it will open up opportunity for artisanal food sellers, corporate entities, and area employers in the food and hospitality business.

Suffern RCC culinary students, who were originally supposed to be in the building last September, are scheduled to move from an outdated Suffern campus into the Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center at 70 Main in January. The new 18,000-square-foot “campus” will house a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, two classrooms, student lounges, and an amphitheater. The most visible features will be a farm-to-table market and a 45-person seating space with opportunities for pop-up restaurants, due to open in the spring.

Farm to Table Market

Decisions have not been made yet on what products will be sold in the farm-to-table market but the center’s interim director David Kimmel said he’s looking for foods that put a “focus on New York.” For example, hard apple cider, craft beers, honey, maple syrup – anything that showcases the best of what New York growers make. Kimmel says the market is inviting Nyack’s farm market vendors to sell their wares at the culinary center. Most likely, the center will either buy the goods at wholesale and resell them, or take a percentage of sales, but vendors will not have to pay rent.

“Cooking is a great way to build team spirit.” The school will even supply a teaching chef and assistants to add a professional touch to the event.”

When the market opens, students (there are about 120) will be cooking in the teaching kitchen, and selling what they create at the market from 7 am to 8 pm. The seating area next to the market will be used as a place to eat, a pop-up restaurant, and a rental space for events. The market and seating area will have glass windows overlooking South Broadway.

Businesses fishing for team-building concepts may want to consider the center’s 10-station teaching kitchen, fully equipped with ranges, grills, prep tables, sinks, food preps, blenders and food processors. There are large monitors in the cooking stations to screen demonstrations. “A business can rent the space for a team cooking exercise during the evening or on weekends,” said Kimmel. “Cooking is a great way to build team spirit.” The school will even supply a teaching chef and assistants to add a professional touch to the event.”

Kimmel says he’s built culinary schools all around the world but there’s nothing close to this in the lower Hudson Valley – with the exception of the CIA (Cooking Institute of America), his alma mater. The RCC center will be an asset to Nyack, the county and the region. Training students in Nyack will benefit area restaurants, hotels, agro-tourism, and hospitality employers.

Reconfigured 50-Seat Ampitheater

The lower level amphitheater will be another draw for commercial use. It has a 50-seat capacity as a dinner-theater configuration, or 100 seats for lectures. The theater has a demo kitchen, as well as a screen for film or Powerpoint presentations. Once the theater is up and running, the school will be hiring a program director to handle bookings.

Kimmel says he’s been fielding requests for participation in both the farm-to-table market as well as the theater but “there’s plenty of time to get involved.” The center will also be a draw for cooking classes, summer camps, musical performances, fundraisers and tourism. There’s a lot of work to be done to use this learning center as a multi-faceted business and community asset but anyone who spends time with Kimmel has no doubt that his energy will fire up an incredible buffet of offerings.