Southeast Community College — Great Plains Culinary Institute

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Southeast Community College — Great Plains Culinary Institute 

Give me a brief synopsis of what your company does.

Rob Epps is Director of the Culinary/Hospitality program in the Great Plains Culinary Institute. Rob also teaches the advanced baking and pastry classes.

The Great Plains Culinary Institute at Southeast Community College (SCC; www.southeast.edu/course) provides industry training for students in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry and in Hospitality Management. Our programs are accredited by the American Culinary Federation and taught by accredited chefs and experienced faculty. Our new state-of-the-art facilities offer the best experience to our students in preparing them for the industry and placing them on the path to be future leaders and chefs. The Institute has two culinary teaching labs, a baking and pastry lab, a demonstration classroom and two practical training areas for students: Course Restaurant and our new Course Ground Coffee Shop.

Course Restaurant is an 80-seat full-service restaurant that serves lunches and special evening events that are open to the public. Course Ground Coffee offers quick breakfast and lunch food options, fresh baked goods, roasting coffee beans, and a full array of barista coffee drinks to our students and staff on campus. Students have the opportunity for more realistic experiences in having practical classes serving, preparing and running these areas.

How long have you been in Lincoln?

The Culinary/Hospitality program has been around since the 1980’s, and our new Culinary Institute space opened in January of 2018.

Who are the key people that make up your team?

Our Chef Instructors include Gerrine Schreck-Kirby, Brandon Harpster, Maybell Galusha, and Travis Green. Our Hospitality Management Instructor is Kimberly Williams-Lamb. Our Basic Nutrition Instructors include Erin Caudill, Candice Kohnke, and Melissa Oerman. Katie Skinner is our Purchasing Agent, Michael Vandenberg is the Chef at Course Restaurant, Angela Cheever is our Dining Manager at Course Restaurant, and Bailey Ahlberg is our Manger of Course Ground Coffee. We also have many adjunct instructors and part time staff that are integral to our success.

What do you think makes you different from other companies similar to yours?

With our accreditation from the American Culinary Federation, our state-of-the-art facilities, and our excellent staff and faculty, we have one of the foremost Culinary programs in the Midwest.

What do you like about doing business in Lincoln?

Lincoln has a rich and varied culinary scene. There is always a need for qualified and trained staff, and being in Lincoln allows us to be a part of this and help both students and the industry.

What kind of community organizations/groups is your business involved with?

We work with programs like SkillsUSA, Prostart, Lincoln Public Schools, and other area high schools. We also are involved in industry organizations like the Nebraska Restaurant Association, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Beef Producers, Midwest Dairy Producers, and more.

What changes have you seen in the industry and your company in the past few years?

The low unemployment rate has made it more and more difficult for industry to find employees. We receive calls weekly asking for students and graduates to work. Until something changes, I do not think this will get much better.

What do you see happening with the business in the next five years?

At the Great Plains Culinary Institute, we are looking to continue the growth of our students enrolled in the programs. We also would like to work more with industry partners and see what training and opportunities we can provide.

What is one of the biggest challenges that your company has faced?

Until our remodel in 2018, it was space. We were teaching out of three kitchens spread over three campuses. It was not an ideal learning environment for the students. Once we opened the new institute space, we have seen huge improvements in students learning and growth in the programs.

What has been your most important achievement as a business?

Training and educating the next generations of chefs, pastry chefs and, managers to continue spreading quality service in the industry is always our most important achievement.

SCC Course Restaurant
8800 O St. | Lincoln, NE 68520
402-437-2727 | course@southeast.edu

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