There’s a New Kitchen in Town


Sydni Cunningham, Digital Content Producer

Last year, the Tyler Junior College administration was approved to start a new Culinary Arts program. The administrators were working on developing the curriculum for the program. This year, the school is focusing on building the new facility for the new Culinary program.

TJC is adding so many new renovations and new areas around campus this year that it’s hard to keep up. From working on old buildings to building completely new ones, the school is starting a whole new era of student life. One of the biggest projects that the school is working on directly coordinates with the school’s decision to offered on Culinary Arts to their growing list of programs. Culinary Arts is a work program that is categorized as an AAS degree.

According to Curriculum Director Billie Anderson, “An AAS degree is an Associate of Applied Science. Their programs are governed by the rules of the Guidelines for Instructional programs in Workforce Education (GIPWE). It is also governed by the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM). The AAS or certification programs are meant for students who want to go directly into the workforce after leaving TJC.”

As of this fall semester, the school has added 21 new Culinary Arts classes to the school. Six of those classes are associated prerequisites/corequisites for students who want to concentrate on Pastry.The Culinary Arts building is currently being built at what is called Pirtle Phase One, which is an old part of the Pirtle Technology building.

When asked what made the school pick that location, Mark Gartman, Director of Facilities and Construction, said, “About two years ago, one of the school’s first ideas, I think, was a culinary school. There were several things kicked around. One of them was TJC North. The other option was the third floor of the energy building over at West Campus. The other one was the third floor of Rogers nursing building. Those three ideas were kicked around
Then, we were meeting one day, and we said, ‘well, let me just show you some property.’ So we went and looked at Pirtle Phase One, and everybody seems to like it.” With the fall semester quickly approaching, many students are curious about what kind of activities that they will be able to do at the new building.

“Extracurricular activities,” said Gartman. “And you can have a night time viewing of the stars. And you have the Valentine’s Day, and you probably have something at Christmas. And the school has a little outdoor eating area that was donated by the Junior League, and they graciously agreed that they would like to have these upgrades.”
Students will also be able to order food and eat meals made by culinary students in the new culinary building. Many school administrators have big goals for the new building, and when asked, Gartman said that he could see some collaboration between the Center for Earth And Science, possibly serving meals with some of their shows. He believes it opens up a whole new world for the school.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of restaurants in the Tyler metro area has grown every year since 2011. There was a particularly large spike in 2016 when nearly 30 new restaurants opened in one year. Restaurant openings have rapidly outpaced population growth. Overall, this is a program that will impact the city for many years to come. The building is set to be done in January of next year, and it will begin to operate by spring 2019.