New culinary lab cooking up more skilled chefs in Muscatine

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MUSCATINE, Iowa - All the finishing touches and work are complete for the new Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management lab in Muscatine. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges remodeled the former Button Factory restaurant location at 215 W. Mississippi Drive in Muscatine.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs – currently offered at Scott Community College – were expanded to Muscatine. The first culinary classes officially started in January 2017.

“We have a wonderful lab in the Quad Cities but its 40 miles away. Now, students can come here to Muscatine,” said Brad Scott, Culinary Arts Director at Scott Community College.

On Thursday, March 2, 2017 Muscatine Community College and students held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new lab.

“All of us here are in the very first class. Makes you feel proud,” said Collin Carroll who is a student in the program.

Students complete their classwork in the lab on Mondays and then spend the rest of the week in local restaurants, hotels and hospitality related businesses to gain real life experience.

“It`s a real life application. We have a real kitchen that was in a restaurant,” added Scott.

Culinary student, Andrew Devick`s love for cooking comes from spending years in his grandma`s kitchen.He’s wanted to be a chef since he was young and is now taking Culinary Arts courses through Muscatine Community College.

“This is what I`ve wanted to do for a long time so when I found out this program was here in Muscatine it was exactly what I needed,” said Devick.

The Culinary Arts program is one of the largest programs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges with more than 100 students every year.

The program partners with the new hotel under construction along the riverfront. The Merrill hotel and conference center will have 120 rooms and will connect to the old hotel Muscatine by a sky walk.

The project has received funding from local investors as well Chinese investors who put up millions of dollars.

After graduation students are guaranteed an interview for employment at the hotel.

The goal is to open the hotel in fall 2017.