Blog: This Culinary Life

Welcome GRCC SICE Students

Dear Incoming Student:

On behalf of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education (SICE) students, staff, and faculty, I extend you a warm welcome to Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC).

Just like yourself, I am a "freshman" at GRCC's SICE. Over the past month, however, I was able to ease myself slowly into the Program Director's position. As the weeks flew by, I had an opportunity to come together and intermingle with administrators, faculty, staff, and students from all over GRCC. Most of this time I spent listening, learning, and envisioning the coming academic year. The generosity, kindness, and enthusiasm all have shown me in these early stages of my arrival as program director humble me deeply.

As we begin this new academic year, let me broadly sketch the work that lies ahead.

I am delighted to announce that the Fountain Hill Brewery will be open to the public for the first time. As the first cohort of our Craft Brewing, Packaging, and Service Operations Certificate students moves into the second and final part of their certificate track, we welcome the second cohort. Why is this significant? Fountain Hill Brewery is the only fully licensed community college operated brewery program in the nation that allows for the sale of beer brewed in the classroom to the public on premises through Fountain Hill Brewery's Taproom "Pete’s Pub."

During conversations with Dr. Pink, GRCC's Dean of Workforce Development, I have been encouraged and tasked with efforts to continue to enhance education at GRCC's SICE. In front of us are the following challenges.

We will begin to investigate the feasibility, development, and design of new courses and perhaps certificate programs that will further shape the curriculum's foundation. Innovation and additions to the already existing curriculum may better help us to serve industry needs and the demands of alumni and industry professionals to satisfy their hunger for lifelong learning.

That is why we cannot rest on our laurels.

SICE demands hard work and dedication of its students, staff, and faculty. As a full-time student, it is not unrealistic for you to take up to 35 hours of class time per week. Your academic success depends on attendance and class participation. As a student you will find that study skills–and, as in industry itself, excellent interpersonal communication skills and work habits are paramount.

Our customers demand a dining experience! We no longer can concern ourselves with "just" meeting guest expectations. The industry standard is to exceed a guest's expectations consistently. In the words of my predecessor, Assistant Professor Gendler, founder of San Chez Bistro: "Maintaining innovation and quality in the products we sell, the services we provide, and the way we treat our guests and employees is the cornerstone of any food service establishment’s success."

As you begin your academic pursuits, you will find that SICE is not defined by its state of the art instructional facilities. Nor its longstanding tradition and accolades as one of the top 20 culinary programs in the country. Nor by its "a first in the nation" fully licensed brewery program, but by you, SICE's students, faculty, and staff.

SICE has a serious stake in drawing to our family the most talented persons we can find. We know that we can build on past successes only upon a pledge of inclusiveness and cultural diversity. We must do our part to empower passionate culinarians, craft brewers, and aspiring managers from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, to launch them quickly into an industry that is aching for highly qualified human capital.

We will meet this task head on, by recognizing and embracing each of our differences and experiences. We will learn from each other. My job is not to be easy on you. My job is to take SICE's already outstanding students, faculty, and staff and to support, empower, and challenge all of you to reach your full human potential.

And finally, you must be mindful and never forget that:

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."  - Steve Jobs

Your education at SICE will provide you with the tools, support, and self-confidence as you aspire on a journey that will bequeath us the world more interesting for your being here.

We are thrilled to have you!

 

Werner Absenger, PhD, MSc

Assistant Professor | Program Director SICE