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$20 million facility named for trustee B. Robert Burdo

[caption id="attachment_31655" align="alignleft" width="288" caption=""The SRJC Culinary Arts Program has a very special place in my heart," said John Ash, a James Beard award-winning author, chef, educator and principal of John Ash & Co. "I first began to teach there more than 25 years ago and that experience changed the direction of my life. … We are so lucky to have this unique resource in our community.""][/caption]

The new Culinary Arts Center will be the latest academic addition to the Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

Culinary Arts is one of SRJC's leading Career and Technical Education programs preparing students for a variety of careers in a region renowned for food, wine and exceptional hospitality.

Designed first and foremost as a learning center, the center's mission includes serving as a home for five commercial kitchens, three classrooms, a retail bakery, a wine library and a 100-seat culinary cafe open to the public.

The new facility across from the main campus on Mendocino Avenue has been named for B. Robert Burdo, who has served on SRJC's Board of Trustees for over 25 years, and who recently started another four-year term. He has served as board clerk, vice president and later as board president on four different occasions.

For 24 years he has been a member of the facilities committee, including one of the most high growth periods for the college. During his tenure, the Public Safety Training Center in Windsor was built along with the Petaluma SRJC Campus, the new Doyle Library, a three-story parking structure as well as the Culinary Arts Center.

"Bob's deep interest in education, food, and community service make the naming of the beautiful Culinary Arts Center in his honor a perfect match," said Tony Ichsan, dean of facilities planning and operations for the Sonoma County Junior College District.

Built at a cost of $20 million with Measure A bond funds, the center is located at 1670 N. Mendocino Ave. It will have four times the space as the previous location. The 20-month construction project for this 22,000-square-foot, two-story structure began in April 2010 and is scheduled for completion in December 2011.

Three prime contractors are working on this project -- Brown Construction, Petersen Mechanical and McClure Electric -- in cooperation with a number of sub-contractors. This structure will have a brick exterior and tiled roof in keeping with architectural heritage of the campus and to complement existing buildings such as Pioneer Hall, the Frank P. Doyle Library and the Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Services Center.

Plans for a permanent home for Culinary Arts date back to 2003 when the program outgrew its original site at Garcia Hall. That year a temporary center with 5,500 square feet of space was leased at the corner of Seventh and B Streets in the Brickyard Center of Santa Rosa. While some introductory courses are still being taught at Garcia Hall on the Santa Rosa campus, production classes are offered at the Brickyard. With the completion of the new building, all of these courses will be consolidated at the new location.

"From the beginning, the primary purpose has been to create a state-of-the-art instructional facility with teaching kitchens and spacious classrooms with seating for approximately 72 students," said Michael Salinger, chair of the SRJC consumer and family studies department. "The Burdo Center is also a place where students can hone their hospitality and culinary skills while also learning to manage and operate a working dining establishment and interact with customers. The objective is to prepare them for entry into a local tourism and hospitality industry generating an estimated $2 billion a year in local revenue here in Sonoma County."

He said another goal at this new location is to utilize larger quarters to expand the curricula and accommodate more students, and also to broaden the range of certificate offerings that today includes a Culinary Arts Certificate and Associate in Arts Degree, a Baking and Pastry Certificate, Dining Room Service Certificate, Front House Operations Certificate and a Restaurant Management Certificate and Associate in Arts Degree.  Other certificate categories, such as vegetarian cooking, butchery and catering, are also being considered.

The first floor of the center will contain a dining room and demonstration kitchen, a teaching kitchen, a classroom, dining and wine education area, a student lobby and a receiving area plus a production bakery, retail bakery and public cafe along with the restaurant's kitchen.  This level also houses a wine library, ice cream and chocolate area and a pizza oven.

Two additional classrooms, a student lobby, a teaching kitchen, faculty offices, building mechanicals and a deck will be situated on the second floor. The grounds will include a parking lot for cafe customers in addition to an outdoor barbecue and patio area.

As with other SRJC campus buildings, the Culinary Arts Center incorporates sustainability practices and a variety of cost-saving techniques.  For example, recycled materials will be used for carpeting, and energy conservation systems will be installed that are designed to be at least five to ten percent below standard energy requirements for traditional structures.

Exterior lights will be positioned and shielded so they do not shine into the night sky, thus helping to maintain the darkness of the evening.  Restrooms will utilize low-flow fixtures.  The building will also take advantage of natural daylight with a glass stairwell facing Mendocino Avenue.

"The SRJC Culinary Arts Program has a very special place in my heart," said John Ash, a James Beard award-winning author, chef, educator and principal of John Ash & Co.  "I first began to teach there more than 25 years ago and that experience changed the direction of my life.  During my restaurant years it was an invaluable source for employees, many of whom have gone on to great success in the culinary world.  We are so lucky to have this unique resource in our community."

The role of the Culinary Arts Program does not end with education and hands-on experience, the SRJC Center for Culinary, Wine and Hospitality Careers connects job-seeking students and graduates with restaurants, wineries, hotels, caterers and other related businesses throughout Northern California.  Employers can post their open positions and actively use the center's web site to view job seekers' qualifications and contact potential candidates.

Since its inception in 2007, more than 200 students and graduates have found food work through the center's services, which can be accessed at www.santarosa.edu/hospitalityjobmatch.

The Culinary Arts Center Endowment helps students achieve their educational and career goals.  Gifts to the B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center Endowment will provide a permanent source of funding for students and student-focused programs.

Endowment contributions provide financial support through student scholarships while also assisting with student training expenses such as books, tools and uniforms.  Donations also support the Culinary Career Center and job placement for students.  The B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center Endowment is administered by the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation.  Contributions to the endowment or directly to the Culinary Arts Program are tax deductible.  All contributions of $1,000 or more will be recognized on the center's Honor Wall of Donors.

For more information on how to make a named or other type of endowment gift, contact Kate McClintock, executive director of the foundation, 707- 527-4797 or email her at kmcclintock@santarosa.edu.  Letters and donations can also be mailed to the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95401-4395.

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Correction: The Penngrove-based Bauman College: Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, has been providing Nutrition Sciences and Culinary Arts courses since 1989. An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that is was the only local culinary arts program.