Ribbon cutting event launches facility on Main St. in Lakewood Ranch where School of Hotel and Restaurant Management classes, special culinary events and industry research take place…
SARASOTA (February 6, 2014) – USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership cut the ribbon on the Culinary Innovation Lab (CIL), a new teaching facility on Main St. in Lakewood Ranch Wednesday. The Manatee Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce joined local dignitaries and USFSM board members, administrators, faculty, staff, community supporters, restaurant and tourism advisers and business leaders in an official opening of the re-purposed space formerly occupied by the Viking Culinary Center. More than 50 students in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management prepared hors d’oeuvres and served over 125 guests.
The CIL is ideal as a venue for incubating ideas, innovations and skills for the fast growing tourism sector. Classes began on January 6, and students are already partnering with restaurateurs and local food and wine events such as Clearwater Uncorked, the Sarasota Community Food System program and Chowdown for Charity. “Our objective is to create an intensive, kinesthetic environment that our hospitality students can thrive in and that will make them competitive in the future of the industry,” said Chef Joe Askren, Culinary Innovation Lab director. USF Sarasota-Manatee signed a four-year lease with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch on the 4,000+ square-foot space that provides a state-of-the-art facility for students to participate in creative, sustainable and global cooking and “back of the house” restaurant management and event planning instruction. They are taught by USFSM faculty and guest chefs from around the world. “In the past we’ve had to use the Publix Aprons cooking school and the Manatee Technical Institute’s kitchen for our Intro to Food Prep class,” said chef Askren. “Now we have a superbly-equipped culinary demonstration and preparation area, classroom space, room for special events and a venue for hosting our community partners. As the College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership continues to grow, we are bringing new technologies and industry best practices to the program.”
Chef Garry Colpitts, formerly of the Manatee Technical Institute, has been named culinary services manager. He has worked with College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership students for over two years and lends practical business and cooking expertise to the Food and Beverage curriculum. Cihan Cobanoglu, dean of the College and McKibbon Distinguished Chair of Hotel Management, said that the Culinary Innovation Lab propels USFSM forward in its goal to be among the top 10 global hospitality, technology education and research programs in the country by 2020. “Our ambitions for the College are much bigger than this educational space alone,” said Cobanoglu. “Our students are learning to manage the complexity of restaurant and hotel operations at the highest level so they can analyze, execute and lead successfully in the constantly evolving hospitality industry.”
From the students’ perspective, the CIL is a welcome addition. “The new facility provides such great resources to help us further our education,” said Jamison Guy, a School of Hospitality and Restaurant Management student who also works at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club in food and beverage service. He plans to continue on at USFSM to earn a master’s degree in his field or an MBA, which will help him attain a director’s or general manager’s position, “wherever the opportunity is.” Guy praised the small class size and personal attention he receives in his USFSM classes and instructors who have wide industry knowledge and experience. “That really makes a difference,” he said.
In his remarks, retiring USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford spoke of the new Culinary Innovation Lab as the latest example of meaningful growth and timely innovation to meet community needs, both hallmarks of his goals for the future of USFSM. “We are so proud to be a part of the burgeoning Lakewood Ranch business community and to showcase our signature Hospitality program,” Guilford said. “We add this cutting-edge resource to the growing footprint of the USF System, which includes our teaching facility at North Port and our new science labs at Mote Marine Laboratory. USFSM continues to be a vital partner in the shared vision of educational excellence in our region, and are so pleased to be involved in the sports, tourism and hospitality enhancements that drive Sarasota-Bradenton’s economic development.”
The College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership offers a B.S. degree in Hospitality Management with a general business foundation and specialized hotel and restaurant management courses, as well as a Master of Science in Hospitality and certificate programs. For more information, visit www.usfsm.edu/chtl.
Staff at the Culinary Innovation Lab
Chef Joe Askren: Director of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Culinary Innovation Lab
Chef Askren is an instructor in the College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership at USF Sarasota-Manatee and director of the Culinary Innovation Labs in Lakewood Ranch. He was a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts from 2007 to 2012. While teaching at Le Cordon Bleu, Askren was twice voted Teacher of the Year by the school’s graduates, in 2008 and 2011. Chef Askren received his BSBA from the University of Florida and an MBA in Hospitality Management from Colorado Technical University. He is also a culinary graduate of Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation and is a Certified Executive Chef as well as a Certified Chef Educator.
Chef Askren worked at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona and the Hyatt Regency’s Golden Swan, which was awarded a 4-Star rating by Mobil Travel Guide and named one of the “Top Five Restaurants in America’s Southwest” by Condé Nast Traveler. He was Executive Chef at the Radisson Woodlands Hotel & Resort in Flagstaff, where he ran one of the largest banquet facilities in Northern Arizona along with two successful restaurants. Chef Askren also worked at the AAA Four Diamond Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.
Garry Colpitts: Culinary Services Manager
Chef Garry Colpitts is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, Holland College Charlottetown Prince Edward Island Canada. A member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), he is a Certified Executive Chef and a Certified Food Service Educator (CFSE) and has been a professional culinarian for over 26 years. Chef Colpitts has worked in resorts, country clubs, independent restaurants, as a private chef and culinary arts instructor and department chair specializing in international and contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on natural cooking, spices and herbs.
Before joining USF Sarasota-Manatee as the Culinary Services Manager for the Culinary Innovation Labs in Lakewood Ranch, he was program manager of the Culinary Arts program at Manatee Technical institute in Bradenton, Fla.
Chef Burak Mil: Visiting Professor
Chef Burak Mil earned a bachelor of Tourism and Hotel Management from Mersin University, Turkey, in 2003. He holds a Master of Science in Tourism and Hotel Management and a PhD in tourism and Hospitality Management. He was a lecturer in the Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department at Turkey’s Adnan Menderes University. Chef Mil’s professional experience includes working at international Hotels including Hilton, Marriott, Renaissance, Miramare and Princess Group. He joined USF Sarasota-Manatee in July, 2013, as a visiting professor for one year, teaching Introduction to Food Production, Event Management and Introduction to Hospitality.
During his tenure at Adnan Menderes University, Chef Mil and his culinary students won numerous awards at international gastronomy festivals and cooking contests organized by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies. Chef Mil has published articles and conference papers on gastronomy, hospitality and tourism management and satisfaction, space perception and research methods.
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in North Port and Manatee County. USFM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu