Culinary wars, community college style?

May 31, 2013 Updated May 31, 2013 at 7:57 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Business First

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Culinary wars, community college style?

May 31, 2013 Updated May 31, 2013 at 7:57 AM EDT

It was a brief moment in a 20-minute presentation, but the consultant's words said a lot.

"Let's face it, we all know what's happening up in Niagara," said Jean Stark, of JMZ Architects and Planners, to the Erie Community College Board of Trustees on Wednesday.

Stark was advocating consolidating ECC's culinary program to its downtown Buffalo campus, one of the many changes JMZ is suggesting to ECC programs and campuses.

By "up in Niagara," she meant the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, run by the Niagara County Community College, which is just finishing up its first year of operation in downtown Niagara Falls. NCCC's president, James Klyczek, said recently that enrollment is meeting expectations, with 350 in the program right now. Applications for the fall semester have surpassed 400. Enrollment is expected to swell to 1,000 within five years.

Klyczek pointed out NCCC students get educated in a state-of-the-art building, in a tourist mecca, for a community college tuition.

"Student interest is very high," he said. "Parents and students are really taken aback by the quality of the facility and the amount of space we have."

ECC officials are proud of its Culinary Arts program - traditionally one of its most popular - and have said recently that its enrollment is still full. But with NCCC looking nearly triple the enrollment in the Culinary Institute, it will be interesting to watch how ECC ups its game.

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