Perhaps unbeknownst to many, Salt Lake Community College is home to one of the most highly accredited culinary institutes in the country, having repeatedly earned accreditation from the American Culinary Federation Education (ACFEF), the educational arm of the largest professional chef organization in North America.
Such an honor places SLCC’s program, officially titled Salt Lake Community College Culinary Institute, among the leading culinary schools in the country, but at a fraction of the average tuition cost at other institutes.
“This is one of the highest rated programs in the country for culinary arts, so there are a lot of people from out of state coming here because of the price and the quality,” said Daniel McIntosh, a second year student at the SLCC Culinary Institute. “I did a lot of research before I chose this college. It was hard for me to move away from my family, but it’s worth it in the long run.”
Located at the SLCC Miller Campus, the SLCC Culinary Institute teaches more than food preparation. As an ACFEF accredited institution, the institute also teaches subjects such as risk management, human resource management, purchasing, food safety, and nutrition.
Leslie Seiferle, associate professor at the SLCC Culinary Institute remembers a time before the program was accredited in 1995 when SLCC’s culinary school was much more laid back.
“Before we got accreditation, students were in the lab with shorts and sandals on,” she said. “Once we moved into the accreditation arena, then we got very serious.”
Today, the classes offered are not tailored to casual students. The SLCC Culinary Institute caters exclusively to students who are seriously looking to have a career in the culinary arts.
“[The ACFEF] doesn’t offer a blessing for continuing and community education. There is a lot of that that goes on all over the country, and thank heavens for it, but it is not something that there is accreditation from this organization available for,” Seiferle said. “Someone outside of that sort of gets lost in the fray.”
Students who are on the fence about committing to a culinary education can ask to sit in on a class as a guest-status student. Seiferle also suggested that “Kitchen Confidential” by chef Anthony Bourdain gives potential students a good idea of what to expect from the industry.
McIntosh decided to take the plunge two years ago, when he moved to Utah from Wisconsin to attend the SLCC Culinary Institute. He had been in the food service industry for 20 years, and was tired of the insecurity that came from a lack of formal training.
“I lost jobs because I wasn’t good enough, and I knew that. Going to school is the way to go, especially in culinary arts, because you get certified and everything. After attending, you do have personal knowledge. You do know what you’re talking about. You do know what you’re doing. There is no question of, ‘What if this guy doesn’t know this, this, or that? What if he isn’t strong enough in this area?’ There is none of that. It’s confirmed.”
McIntosh will soon see these benefits firsthand. In one more semester, he will have earned his degree, which also guarantees automatic membership in the American Culinary Federation.
“The degree is so high, and the price is so low. This is huge, and it’s right here in your backyard.”