Culinary classroom: Auburn college project part of $10M grant proposal

A slice of Auburn's recent $10 million grant could support a facility where Cayuga Community College students sharpen their culinary skills.

A Cayuga Culinary Center is one of the projects included in the city's winning proposal for the 2018 Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The proposal says the center would feature a wine and beer education center, a working/teaching commercial kitchen, a small restaurant for training students, a bake shop and space for classrooms and faculty offices.

The proposal also says the center would open in fall 2020 at 9-15 State St. in downtown Auburn. The property is currently the site of Choices for Change and two vacant spaces, one of which was the site of the Cayuga County chapter of the American Red Cross. The project's total budget is listed as $750,000, and the amount requested from the $10 million grant is $500,000.

However, in an interview Oct. 2, college President Brian Durant explained that most of those details are still cooking. The institution is looking at "multiple facilities" for the center, he said, and is not locked into 9-15 State St., which is owned by the Stardust Entrepreneurial Institute. The college could either buy or lease the site of the center, Durant added.

The center's features are also undecided, Durant said, as they're subject to the square footage. He said the priority is the kitchen, which would provide a teaching space for credit and noncredit students in the college's culinary arts program. The space should also have the kind of equipment and technology that lets faculty provide an innovative educational experience, he said.

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