SUNY Broome’s new Culinary & Event Center is a dream school for many aspiring confectioners, cooks, and event hosts. This $21.5 million facility located in Binghamton, New York was originally the Carnegie Binghamton Public Library and recently transformed to a state-of-the-art teaching facility. The Culinary & Event Center is home to SUNY Broome’s hospitality programs: Culinary Arts: A.O.S. and Event Management: A.O.S. and an additional program, Hospitality Management: A.A.S., is offered fully online. In addition to academic programs, the building features non-credit community courses and workshops throughout the year. This project started in 2019, and like many other projects, was halted due to the pandemic. This setback did not stop Dr. Rey Wojdat, senior professor for the Hospitality Programs Department, from pursuing what will be a premier culinary college experience.
Dr. Wojdat is responsible for spearheading this building transformation, along with developing the department curriculum. During his 39 years of teaching, Dr. Wojdat focuses on teaching students about work ethic and providing a full experience. “This center will serve a number of disciplines for a variety of students,” says Dr. Wojdat. “It’s important for students to learn a variety of skills, from culinary basics to business and science, to have a well-rounded view of the culinary world prior to entering the workforce.”
Before introducing the idea of this new Culinary & Event Center, Dr. Wojdat traveled to many facilities, researching the best equipment and layout, keeping in mind any limitations that an older building may present. Working with the historical building layout, plus creating a unique and well-rounded curriculum, Dr. Wojdat decided that a morphable kitchen space would be necessary. “Having a morphable space gives students and faculty the opportunity to use different equipment throughout a course,” says Dr. Wojdat. “The kitchens are designed with the most advanced equipment and features available. A lot of research and money went into designing the space for the best use in years to come.”
Throughout his research, Dr. Wojdat discovered that artisan chocolate making was growing in popularity and determined that a specialty equipment line for bean-to-bar chocolate making would be integrated into the facility. The Cacao Cucina® bean-to-bar line was the ideal solution, featuring portable equipment for this morphable lab. This equipment line features bean cleaning, roasting, winnowing, nib grinding, refining, sifting, and tempering. Students will learn the highly artistic value of making chocolate while also learning packaging and preserving methods. The chocolate making classes will complement the candy making and chocolatier courses that were already included in the curriculum.
In November, John Vessa, the creator of the Cacao Cucina® bean-to-bar line and senior applications engineer at CandyWorx, a Spec Engineering brand, traveled to SUNY Broome for the start-up of this equipment line. CandyWorx gifted the college a 60 kg. bag of Guatemalan cacao so the faculty could learn the bean-to bar process during this three-day start-up. At the end of the start-up, chocolate bars were produced, and the faculty are ready to transfer their knowledge on to their students. “The SUNY chefs were enthusiastic and eager to learn the entire bean-to-bar chocolate process,” says Vessa. “It will be exciting to see and taste the results of their creativity as they move forward.”
Learn more about SUNY Broome here.