Downtown satellite classroom offers Hospitality Management students a much-needed kitchen
When the former Lafayette Club was renovated to accommodate York College’s Center for Community Engagement, the school’s 5-year-old Hospitality Management program received something it desperately needed: a kitchen.
“This space really filled a void for us,” said Dr. Joseph Scarcelli, Associate Professor of Hospitality Management. “It brings us up to the level of the programs we compete with and want to surpass.”
Located in the lower level of the East Market Street building, the kitchen is fitted with the same equipment you’d find in any commercial kitchen, giving students the opportunity to learn first-hand how different culinary tools and appliances work.
Recent graduate Aaron Cook (’16-Hospitality Management), who took Scarcelli’s Food Production Lab this fall, was one of the first students to use the new kitchen. As someone who’s worked in the food industry, he was impressed it contained all the equipment you’d find in any professional restaurant.
As the front-of-house manager at the First Post restaurant in Springettsbury Township, Cook understands from personal experience the importance of how to safely operate kitchen equipment.
“So many people learn those lessons through accidents,” he said. “I’d rather learn it with 10 fingers than with none.”
Essential management perspective
Working with a consultant, Scarcelli helped design the kitchen based on his own experience in professional kitchens and in teaching similar classes. While these students aren’t being trained to be professional chefs, having an understanding of how a kitchen works from a management perspective is essential.
In addition to the kitchen, students have access to the venue space on the ground floor that’s being used to host both large and small events for members of the York community.
The Food Production class culminated with a joint event hosted by the York Young Professionals and the York County Economic Alliance. Local restaurateurs brought samples, and students prepared dishes to serve.
Cook said collaborating with members of the community on the event was an important experience.
“When you talk about a major like Hospitality, that’s what it’s all about – taking those skills and using them in the community,” he said.
A lot of flexibility and possibility
In the future, the downtown satellite building will host classes on food safety and wine management.
And Scarcelli is excited for the versatility of the ground floor – not to mention all the back stairways and hallways that allow people and things to move around without being seen.
“It offers a broad range of uses for my students,” he said. “If we want to plan a small event for three dozen people, we have a smaller space with a fireplace and hardwood floors. Or, if we want to have a larger event, the ballroom is suitable. We’re pretty excited that there’s a lot of flexibility and a lot of possibility down there.”