Calgary·FOOD AND THE CITY

SAIT teaching the business side of running busy kitchen

SAIT’s newest culinary campus recently opened a couple blocks west of their original downtown campus, and builds on its success by delving into the operational and business side of the food industry.

Tastemarket is an innovative learning environment for future culinary entrepreneurs

Tastemarket allows culinary students to get hands-on experience while learning the business side of the food industry. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

SAIT's newest culinary campus recently opened a couple blocks west of their original downtown campus, and builds on its success by delving into the operational and business side of the food industry.

While the original campus on the second level of Scotia Centre focuses more on production in its busy kitchen classroom, during the day, students in the second-year cooking, baking and pastry arts programs prepare breakfast, lunch, baked goods and take-away dishes for the downtown crowd. The campus allows students to learn about production, customer interaction and volume.

Tastemarket is an innovative learning environment for future entrepreneurs, teaching business skills through a year-long culinary entrepreneurship post-diploma program.

"This test market is really a taste market," said Patricia Koyich, who previously owned Il Sogno restaurant in Bridgeland and now runs the culinary entrepreneurship program along with chef instructor Michael Mandato.

"We're showcasing other SAIT students' food, from charcuterie to baked goods. But this is a graduate campus, so students are analyzing how much it costs to make and implement. It acts as a magnifying glass to see operations, and how things work."

Patricia Koyich runs the culinary entrepreneurship program along with chef instructor Michael Mandato. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

There are four stations set up as four separate operations — a full-service charcuterie and wine bar, a flatbread station, an area offering chocolate, pastries and coffee, and hot foods including ramen, rice bowls, salads and protein — all of which can be eaten in the 9,000 square-foot space or taken to go.

A real-life restaurant environment with so many moving parts gives students the chance to learn, hands-on, different areas of the food industry and the impact of the costs behind them during their year-long certificate program.

"We don't have time to teach much of the business aspect during their second-year culinary arts program," said Koyich. "So they come here and learn about each station as a business of its own. It helps them see and understand how numbers and staffing integrate in a full-service environment."

With a focus on small business, the Tastemarket has partnerships with other local small food producers, like Fratello Coffee and Brassica Mustard, whose owners regularly come in and share their stories with the students.

Tastemarket is an innovative learning environment for future entrepreneurs, teaching business skills through a year-long culinary entrepreneurship post-diploma program. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

"Students don't have to have come from the SAIT program, they can be graduates from across Canada, and we even have some international students," said Koyich. 

"And they're not only from culinary arts or baking and pastry programs, but from the hospitality field as well, which makes the diversity of the classroom really interesting and exciting."

Tastemarket is at 444 7 Ave. S.W. and is open Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with cooking classes offered after-hours. It's also available for private bookings.

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.

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