The Louisiana Artists Guild announced yesterday afternoon their selection of the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) as the purchaser of the former Louisiana ArtWorks building located at 725 Howard Avenue. The purchase is to be financed by a loan from First NBC with guaranties pledged by Bill Goldring, Phyllis Taylor and David Kerstein through The Helis Foundation.
“We were thrilled to learn of the selection of the NOCHI proposal for the ArtWorks building located on historic Lee Circle,” said George Brower, a member of NOCHI’s board of directors. “It is a win-win for the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, our citizens, our workforce and the preservation of our unique culture.”
NOCHI’s plan is to bring together providers of higher education to collaborate in a new model of training, education, and research and development that integrates existing and new programs at Delgado Community College, the University of New Orleans and Tulane University.
“NOCHI is already a symbol of what can happen when diverse people, multiple universities, a city and a state come together to make an important idea come to life,” said Ti Martin, another member of NOCHI’s board of directors that also includes Dickie Brennan, John Besh, Edgar Chase III and Barbara Mollere. “Our city deserves a center for excellence to study, teach, innovate, and celebrate our culinary history and to chart a path for the history we want to make in the food world.”
Delgado has executed a cooperative endeavor agreement with NOCHI to locate their existing certificate and associate degree programs alongside NOCHI’s other programming and services in the former ArtWorks building. NOCHI plans to complement and augment the offerings of Delgado’s Hospitality and Culinary Center and the existing degrees offered through the University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration by creating baccalaureate and master’s degree programs in the culinary arts, as well as courses geared to the general community and unique culinary tourism experiences.
"The decision by the administration to select NOCHI as the purchaser of the Artworks Building is a true testament to the commitment of the parties involved in creating this high profile institute," said Stan Harris, President/CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. "NOCHI will provide a platform for these various culinary and hospitality interests to work together to elevate educational offerings in New Orleans."
In addition to offering world-class training and education at all levels of higher education, NOCHI’s mission is to support research and development in the food and hospitality space and plans to establish a food/hospitality business incubator in partnership with a leading local business or economic development organization.
"The placement of the institute on the Howard Avenue corridor provides exciting potential as an entrepreneurial incubator area for hospitality, technology and related businesses," added Harris.
NOCHI expects to begin construction by the end of this year and to launch full-scale operations of the building in time for the Fall 2016 semester, with parts of the building’s long-term operations going live as early as the end of 2015.
The strength of NOCHI’s bid for the former ArtWorks building lay in its strong public purpose of driving workforce and business development in the Greater New Orleans region, in addition to sustaining the original mission of the ArtWorks building of investing in the cultural fabric of New Orleans to improve the quality of life for its citizens and to attract students, visitors and influencers from around the world.
“Let me tell you,” said Leah Chase, New Orleans chef, author, and television personality. “We need this. This school can put so many of our young people on a variety of career paths that can stabilize families and lift our city. The culinary arts are as important as all the other enriching arts. This is who we are . . . let's take it to the next level, keep moving, keep it going. New Orleans is big enough to have everything.”
Founded in 2013, the NOCHI is an independent, 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the development and practice of the culinary arts, and to support the growth of the hospitality and tourism industry in the New Orleans region through world-class training and education and the incubation of research and development that will further develop both the culinary arts and the hospitality and tourism industry at large.