Accredited culinary arts classes are coming to Augusta with the opening of Goodwill Industries’ Helms College.
Instruction begins Monday for nearly 20 students working toward culinary certification and an associate degree in culinary arts. The classes are taught in a new facility featuring three state-of-the-art kitchen laboratories and four 20-seat classrooms.
Food safety, restaurant management and basic principles of cooking are taught in the first quarter of the program, said David Ross, the chairman of the culinary department. More advanced classes follow as students work toward employment in restaurants, cafes and hotels.
“The certificate is designed for someone to get those basic cooking skills of how to handle a knife, saute something, grill something,” Ross said. “It really gives those people a viable certificate to get out into the workforce right away. They can get a job as a line cook, prep cook, possibly even a sous chef position.”
Modeled after a Goodwill career training institute in Macon, Ga., the $12 million Helms College is part of a construction project to expand Goodwill’s Augusta campus on Washington Road, Goodwill spokeswoman Susan Everitt said.
Construction is expected to be completed in December. Helms College employs five people, including Ross, who is the only instructor.
The campus includes a 100-seat Mediterranean restaurant called Edgar’s and a 300-seat convention center where students will work in a professionally operated setting.
Future classes will be taught in hospitality, health care and landscape management based on recommendations from the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute, Everitt said. The Fanning Institute is talking to 30 large employers across the state to determine what skilled careers will be most needed in 2016.
Further expansion phases will add classroom space and possibly an on-site training hotel.
Helms College students must have a high school diploma or GED and pass a math and reading assessment. Some students have just graduated from high school, and others are older adults changing careers, Ross said.
Initially, classes are six hours a day, five days a week. The second quarter of classes begins Jan. 14, and federal financial assistance is available.