Marché, open kitchens part of major Culinary Institute renovation

From the outside, you would never know that a $7.5 million renovation and expansion at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown has been underway for more than three months. But step inside and you'll find a very different story.

Renovations expected to be completed by Nov. 1

An artist's rendering of the new look Culinary Institute of Canada (Culinary Institute of Canada)

From the outside, you would never know that a $7.5 million renovation and expansion at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown has been underway for more than three months.

But step inside and you'll see a very different picture.

"There's a lot of moving parts right now," said Justin Dunn, director of facilities management.

"There's actually approximately 6,000 square feet of new space which is being constructed."

'More upscale feel to it'

An extension has been built onto the back of the school overlooking the harbour and all the kitchens, which are training areas for students, have been removed.

The expanded Culinary Institute will be "unrecognizable" to students when it opens in November, according to the director of facilities management. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Almost 2,500 square feet of space has been already added to the Lucy Maud Dining Room.

When finished, Austin Clement, the school's program manager, said it will have a much more upscale feel to it, with wide open spaces and lounge area.

'It's very integrated'

Downstairs will have three different restaurants with a marché-style servery and a butchery.

In total, more than 3,000 square feet is being added.

Almost 2,500 square feet is being added to the Lucy Maud Dining Room, allowing students more room for tableside experiences with guests. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"The new marché style of service downstairs will have students front and centre face to face with customers using new technology and having to perform in a very interpersonal way with the clients, which is something to see in the industry now," said Clement.

"Kitchens are no longer tucked away in the back where service is in the front. It's very integrated." 

There will also be a grab 'n go inside the renovated lobby.

The school calls it a production model, training students in the same environment as an industry kitchen.

'Steel and fire'

"A large piece of this is really about technology and integration that has to take place," explained Clement. "Cooking will always be about steel and fire, however there's many new technologies, induction, comforttherm technology and rationale units, all those sorts of things. It will have changed how our students are performing when they get to industry.

Guests will be able to see their meal being prepared in either the Lucy Maud Dining Room or bistro downstairs. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"So, we have to address that and it's important that they train on those new pieces of equipment, but our primary focus is to teach these students to cook, which we've always done really well."

Construction is on schedule.

'Perform at a higher level'

The renovations are expected to be completed Nov. 1, with the facilities open to students for the first time the following week.

"Our students are going to be expected to perform at a higher level, be trained at a higher level, but also be much more prepared for industry," Clement said.

The school's program manager said students will be trained at a higher level and expected to perform at a higher level to be better prepared to enter the industry. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"They definitely wouldn't recognize it today and they definitely won't recognize it in two months from now," added Dunn.

"Lucy Maud Dining Room is going to be unrecognizable for our patrons and our students as they come back and have an opportunity to walk these halls again."