Last September, Nicholls State University in Thibodaux held a ground breaking ceremony for a new 36,000 square-foot home for the John Folse Culinary Institute. Started in the mid-1990s, the JFCI current enrollment is now six times its original class size, and as a result additional space is needed to accommodate the growing student base.
Due to the ever growing popularity of the culinary profession and Louisiana culinary traditions, the administration sees the program doubling its current enrollment in the coming years. The culinary program is the fastest growing of those offered at Nicholls.
A good percentage of students enrolled at JFCI are being recruited from the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s ProStart program. With 1,300 students enrolled in ProStart statewide, where they learn the foundational elements of culinary arts and restaurant management, many of these students find themselves pursuing their culinary degrees at the Institute.
Also, the LRAEF has awarded upwards of 55 students more than $140,000 in financial assistance through its Scholarship Fund and many of them selected JFCI. At this year’s LRAEF Five Star Futures Gala in New Orleans on August 2, 2014, another $60,000 will be awarded, raising the total to $200,000 since the Fund’s inception in 2009.
The new JFCI state-of-the-art facility is a great benefit to our industry here in Louisiana, as it serves as a training ground rooted in our culinary history and also provides advanced culinary technical training and is the only culinary institute offering a Bachelor of Science degree.
JFCI Executive Director Randy Cheramie said in a Gulfseafoodnews.com article that, the new facility will feature four 1,200 square-foot course specific kitchens—general, pastry, meat fabrication, and sauces, soups and stocks or saucier. A retail shop, selling textbooks, knives, specialty foods and other culinary accessories, is included in the plans. The student-run restaurant will also expand dinner service from the currently offered two nights a week to five nights.
While $9 million of the $12.6 million cost of the building was funded by a state capital outlay grant, the Institute must raise the remaining balance. Partial funding of $400,000 for the project came from a partnership between the JFCI and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and was comprised of funds from an Economic Disaster Recovery Program grant and funds the LSPMB received from BP following the 2010 oil spill.
Fundraising efforts are still underway and on Sunday, March 23, 2014, Chef John Folse and the JFCI will host its First Inaugural Dinner of the Century at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans. The “Star-Spangled Evening” pays tribute to a historic meal reminiscent of the last meal served at the White House with the hospitality of First Lady Dolley and President James Madison.
With LRA members Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s Restaurant, Chris Lusk of Restaurant R’evolution, Susan Spicer of Bayona and others, this is sure to be a memorable event benefiting the new facility. Tickets are $200 per person, with $125 of the ticket price eligible as a tax-deductible donation. Proceeds benefit the construction of the JFCI’s new building.
RSVP by calling Veronica Veillion at (985) 449-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.