Download our iPad App

Culinary and Conference Center at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, Ind.

The flow of food from delivery to the labs and penthouse is similar to many dining establishments with its ground-floor loading dock and receiving area. When food and other items arrive, staff place them into a secure central storage area, complete with a walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer and dry goods storage area. The walk-in refrigeration units and dry goods storage area contain high-density shelving to allow for approximately 40 percent more storage in the space and easy access for students. Each culinary class requisitions food and supplies from the central commissary. Student managers pick up the items daily and transport them to their production areas for each class.

"This process is repeated after each class, with students transporting food waste to a central waste reduction site on the first floor," Reitano says. Ivy Tech uses pulpers modified for batch operation and dehydrators to substantially reduce the food waste the facility generates. Ivy Tech has a goal of zero net waste for the facility.

"Waste is fed into a dehydrator and comes out as a soil amendment, which is rich in nitrates and great for growing food," Reitano says. "As the school develops its farm-to-fork program, the soil amendment will be used in the school's garden."

Also on the first floor, in the meat fabrication lab, students learn their craft on refrigerated tables specifically designed for this task. By using tables with refrigerated tops and cutting boards, Ivy Tech has avoided the high costs of chilling an entire temperature-controlled room. The refrigerated tables are also equipped with drawers that staff can program for refrigeration, shock freezing or blast chilling. This allows for flexibility in the curriculum.

The bakery lab features tables with wood-top baking surfaces and suspended monitors so students can see instructors at work. Each table contains the appropriate setup for each student, including half-size racks. Three bakery labs, one is on the second floor, provide equipment for students to learn about everything from baking bread to creating pastries, including classical cakes and tortes, cookies and high-end tortes. The retail bakery area, Courses Bakery and Café, features a prep table and hearth oven for preparing pizza and artisan-style breads. Staff also use a panini press for sandwiches and a steam-jacketed kettle for soups. Some finished baked goods are placed in a display case and sold to retail customers who include students, faculty, patrons of the corporate college and community members. The customers can take out menu items or eat on-site in a 45-seat dining area.

The back-of-the-house area for Courses Bakery and Café serves as a learning lab for the retail class and contains a large amount of prep space, an eight-burner range, a steam table for holding hot foods and a bread slicer.

The first floor is also home to a catering kitchen that is currently operated by Sodexo. The catering operation supports banquets, conferences, training classes and other special events in the conference center. Larger events take place in a ballroom that seats up to 250 and can be divided into smaller rooms.

One of Bricker's favorite areas is the enclosed mop closet, which is located in each lab. Constructed of stainless steel, this cabinet is self-contained and vented. When staff open the doors, they can access a complete mop sink setup, including a shelf for chemicals. "This is great because you don't notice that this is a mop closet when you're in the kitchen," Bricker says. "The health department also likes this because everything is contained."

On the second floor, the labs contain cooking suites that enable students to learn more advanced preparation. They also learn about sous vide preparation, which is finding its way into more high-end restaurants than ever before.

Courses Restaurant

Courses restaurant on the 13th floor seats 130 guests. Natural light complements incandescent lighting to brighten the room. In the 13th floor penthouse suite, Courses restaurant kitchen occupies 2,000 square feet. A dining room seats 130 guests while the President's Conference Room seats 50. In the restaurant, Bricker says, "the most important design feature is the windows allowing a view of downtown Indianapolis and the historical components that were saved such as the original fireplace, woodwork, beveled glass that came from the Van Camp mansion, and furniture."

Other glass windows along one corridor leading from the dining room to the President's Conference Room and restrooms allow restaurant guests and program visitors to see activity in the kitchen. "Viewing the kitchen was a very important criteria for design," Reitano says. "There weren't a lot of options given the configuration of the space, so we are very pleased that a high-traffic hallway was worked into the layout right outside the kitchen."

The penthouse-level restaurant, bar and catering operation are all self-sufficient, with their own refrigerated and dry storage areas in place. Deliveries arrive directly in the kitchen space via a freight elevator from the first floor; staff members, including instructors and students, place items in their appropriate places.

An area designated for volume preparation includes an 8-quart mixer for staff to make compound butters and a 20-quart mixer for whipping up garlic mashed potatoes. Staff also use a combi oven for making dishes such as braised beef short ribs and roasting bones for stocks. A tilt skillet braises meats, and the steam-jacketed kettles also heat soups and stocks.

Staff transmit guests' orders via a POS system that has monitors at each of four stations in the kitchen. The first station is the pantry for cold appetizers, salads and desserts. Staff use a prep stand and refrigerated top and cutting board to prepare cold appetizers, salads and desserts. The programmable drawers at this station allow for refrigeration, freezing and blast chilling.

At the sauté station, staff use a 12-burner range with a convection oven below to prepare dishes with chicken, shrimp, scallops and other seafood. Refrigerated drawers also support production here.

At the grill station, staff use a charbroiler with a refrigerated base for marinated pork on skewers for the international menu, steak Diane and fish dishes.

When dishes are complete, staff pass them to the expediting station, containing a heated shelf and heat lamps, where they sit briefly until service staff pick them up and deliver them to guests.

Staff collect dirty dishes from the dining room and bring them into a dishroom before scraping plates and taking the food waste downstairs to the pulper in the dock area for waste-reduction processing. This is the same process staff use in all the kitchens. All dishes are placed in on-site warewashers in each lab.

Within a short time, instructors and students have adjusted comfortably to the new facility and equipment. Just as students here learn to use equipment found in restaurants and other industry facilities, they are surely discovering new applications for the technology and will eventually take this into the industry. This symbiotic relationship is what fuels the foodservice world and keeps it vibrant.