Culinary, Hospitality Programs at COD Provide Hands-On Learning
By Mike McKissack
The Culinary, Hospitality Management and Tourism program at College of DuPage is providing crucial hands-on experience for students.
Culinary and Baking Program Co-Coordinator Tim Meyers said there are many changes on the horizon for the College’s Culinary program this spring that will provide benefits to students on multiple levels. In addition to the revitalization of current degree and certificate programs, the program will offer increased and broader opportunity for hands-on experience on the College’s campus.
“We’re excited about the upcoming changes in the program,” said Meyers. “We will give our students the best real-world experience in both front-of-house and back-of-house so they can go successfully into the industry. Based on industry trends and feedback received from students and an advisory panel made up of industry professionals and experts, we are adding new courses and programs, as well as updating and revitalizing existing degree and certificate programs.”
The 60,000 square-foot cutting edge Culinary and Hospitality Center contains several spaces that provide students with an opportunity to gain real-world experience, including the Wheat Café, Waterleaf Restaurant and the Inn at Water’s Edge, as well as a state-of-the-art skills kitchen, two baking labs, an environmentally controlled chocolate room for confectioners, a culinary amphitheater and a commercial laundry facility for hospitality students.
Beginning in February 2016, the Wheat Café and Waterleaf will feature 100 percent student prepared lunches on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and dinners on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as fast casual breakfast and lunch each Tuesday. Offerings will include casual lunches and dinners highlighting regional American cuisine, global menus prepared by students in the International Cuisine classes, and menus featuring a contemporary spin on classic French cuisine.
According to Hospitality Program Coordinator Mary Beth Leone, students will gain a variety of experiences in a professional environment thanks to on-site facilities at the Glen Ellyn campus.
“Students will learn every aspect of working in real-life professional culinary environment, including both casual and more formal settings and services,” Leone said. “The dinners and lunches are all tied directly to hospitality and culinary classes and feature collaborative learning experiences that enable students from different classes and disciplines to learn to effectively communicate with one another and work together.”
For reservations for student prepared lunches and dinners at Wheat Café and Waterleaf, please click here or call (630) 942-2284.
Students in the Hospitality program are reaping great benefits from the Inn at Water’s Edge, the program’s on-campus hotel lab. According to Leone, unlike most college hotels that use a third party to run their facilities, the Inn is operated by COD exclusively. It typically features a more than 60 percent occupancy rate and is run by students who are either currently enrolled in or are graduates of COD’s Hospitality program.
Recently awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAvisor.com, the boutique hotel features six well-appointed rooms that provide students with a broad range of hands-on experience in a professional hospitality environment. The space was designed with students and learning in mind and features opportunities for students to experience everything from running the front desk and customer service to cleaning rooms and providing laundry services.
For more information and to make reservations at the Inn at Water’s Edge, please click here or call (630) 942-6888.
Leone said, like the Culinary program, the Hospitality Management and Tourism programs are also updating and refining their offerings, including classes and programs aimed at online travel agents and revenue management. The program currently offers one of the only available Event Planning degree programs in the U.S., a field that is expected to see a 33 percent growth in employment over the next several years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Leone said that the Hospitality program currently holds a 100 percent job placement rate, as well as a stellar program completion rate.
“If we lose students, it’s because we’ve lost them to industry,” she said.
In addition to the hands-on experience gained in the College’s cutting edge lab spaces, Culinary and Hospitality program students are also gaining substantial benefits from involvement through industry events and community service, including a HelmsBriscoe event involving hotel managers from every hotel in DuPage County and a partnership with Alexian Brothers Health providing opportunities to work with hospice patients. Students from the College’s Banquets and Catering Class (HOSP 2203) recently planned, prepared for and executed an event that connected students with area businesses.
Leone said that another indicator of the program’s progress is the success of the 3+1 Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Provided through a partnership with Roosevelt University, the program offers students a convenient, affordable and streamlined approach to earning a bachelor degree entirely on COD’s campus.
“Bachelor degrees are becoming much more common and expected in the industry,” Leone said. “The success of the 3+1 program validates that we are providing programs based on the needs of both the students and the industry. The program has grown from only seven students when it began in 2013 to more than 30 students currently.”
Click here for more information on the Culinary, Hospitality Management and Tourism program at College of DuPage.
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
(630) 942-2800 (Main)
(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)
2018 College of DuPage