New directions at Centennial College

From left: James Smith, culinary chair, Joe   Baker, dean, and Michelle Caine, chair, Centennial School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture.

From left: James Smith, culinary chair, Joe Baker, dean, and Michelle Caine, chair, Centennial School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture.

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. — Preparing a business plan, presenting ideas, making a pitch and working with staff are every bit as essential to today’s hospitality graduates as learning skills in the classroom. 

They also need to know how to present themselves, dress for an interview and talk about their own strengths. James Smith, newly minted chair, culinary programs and operations at Centennial College, calls it “roundedness,” and Centennial aims to graduate more well-rounded students.

Smith’s position is a new one, and it reflects a change in culinary focus for the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture. The program has seen some changes at the top end, with Joe Baker taking over as dean a year ago following Shyam Ranganathan’s retirement, and Michelle Caine replacing Verona  Barclay as chair last May.

Centennial is in the process of building a residence and Culinary Arts Centre to house the entire School of Hospitality and Tourism. It will include an eight-storey, 740-room hotel, 20,000 square feet of event spaces, seven kitchen labs (using the equipment installed a few years back in the original building), eight additional classrooms, a teaching restaurant and café.

Centennial’s courses will focus on a broader range of career options. “Before the focus was on downtown bakeries and fine dining,” said Caine. “Now we are also looking at chain restaurants and commercial bakeries. We are opening the doors to all parts of the industry to come in and say hi, and talk to the students.

“Bakery and Pastry Arts students won’t just be bakers. They can be food writers, recipe testers, entrepreneurs, product developers, food blogger, stylists, or they can work in Hollywood producing cakes.”