With Accolades on the ropes, a new retail student-run venture appears
TRU’s culinary arts department is tightening its belt. Budgetary concerns, funding changes and a smaller faculty have the led the program to change what’s on offer to the public this year.
One of the changes is that Accolades, TRU’s fine dining experience, has been scaled back. The restaurant, which once provided a four-course menu four days a week, will now be open only for pre-booked events. At the same time, the department has branched out into the more retail-based Scratch Market.
According to Rob Hood, interim dean of the adventure, culinary arts and tourism department, the changes were made to make the program more cost-effective and sustainable.
“One of the issues over in culinary arts is they have a smaller number of faculty that are delivering programming over there at the moment, and one of the issues has been some health issues with the faculty members over there, so their capacity to deliver programming, as well as service the community, has been diminished,” he said.
The culinary arts program currently employs just four faculty members, compared to the seven employed in previous years.
The award-winning dining room was initially scaled back last January due to budget concerns. At the time, TRU announced alternative options for the restaurant were being discussed with a new plan hopefully on the table by September 2014.
Hood says that plan is still in the works, but has been delayed by the departure of the previous dean, Harold Richins. In the meantime, the culinary arts program is working with faculty in event programming as well as resort and hotel management to organize several special events this semester.
“Those events are going to be the combinations of education from events and hotel management students so they can get their practical experience along with their theory in that environment,” Hood said.
Previously, students in the professional cook two program spent the last semester of their 44-week program in the Accolades dining room.
While that opportunity is no longer available, culinary arts chair Ed Walker said that students are still getting the same level of instruction.
“We’re delivering the same curriculum, doing the same food, but it’s being done in the daytime, not the nighttime,” he said.
Second-year culinary arts student John Klassen is in his last semester of the program, and while he said he is disappointed he won’t get the Accolades experience, he doesn’t feel his education is being negatively affected.
“We opened other programs like the Scratch Market, and I feel that that’s going to bloom … I feel that’s just as good as having Accolades,” Klassen said.
The newly opened Scratch Market shares space with the meat shop on the side of the culinary arts building. The menu includes to-go entrees, soups, sandwiches and baked goods made “from scratch” by culinary arts students.
“We saw an opportunity,” Walker said of the market. “The retail meat store has been running in that space for years, but only one day a week, so the space is there and we thought that’s a good outlet for our students to put food out.”
The market had its grand opening Sept. 30. It will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While Hood said preparing food for the Scratch Market is not meant to replace Accolades, he added the new market might generate more income and provide better service to the general university population than a high-end restaurant. He also pointed out the Scratch Market is less labour intensive, making it a more manageable project for fewer faculty to oversee.
Hood added that, while Accolades provided real world restaurant experience, it is not an educational requirement for students in the culinary arts program.
“That’s been part of the TRU education opportunity,” Hood said. “But it’s not something that’s demanded for the kind of training to get their credentials.”