Riverland, Workforce Center to start cooking course

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2003

Riverland Community College and the Albert Lea Workforce Development Center have teamed up to start a large group food preparation course for displaced workers this summer.

&uot;We’ve had quite a calling for trained restaurant cooks lately,&uot; Ken Quinn, the Riverland training and development consultant for safety and health, said. &uot;We’ve had a lot of hospitals and nursing homes looking for people who have the knowledge to be able to cook meals for 20-200 people.&uot;

Quinn and Brian Vairma, the workforce development coordinator at the center, got together to plan the course, something that they’d done before for other displaced worker programs.

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They decided that because the kitchens at the Austin and Albert Lea campuses aren’t used during the summer they would be perfect classrooms.

The class will teach students how cook for large groups, which Quinn said is different from many restaurant chefs who can focus on single dishes.

&uot;We’re going to take displaced workers and train them in large group food preparation so they can step into a kitchen and prepare food right off the bat,&uot; Quinn said.

Institutions aren’t always willing to put the time and money into training for this sort of work, Quinn said. With this course, the training will be paid for by the development center and the hospitals and homes will be able to get workers who know the field before they step on the job.

The program is also designed to get people back into the workforce.

&uot;We can get people off of welfare and take care of dislocated workers,&uot; Vairma said.

Students will take 120 hours of classroom instruction including food sanitation, nutrition and cooking.

The start date for the class will be July 18, and students are already signing up.

The first summer will have one course in Albert Lea, but Quinn said they are planning on having two courses at a time in Austin over the next few years.

&uot;Basically they’ll learn how to take a small recipe for grandma’s hamburgers to feed a group of 150-200 people,&uot; Quinn said.