Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Culinary program addresses North Shore workforce shortage

Dec 14, 2018 07:35AM ● By Editor
Cook County Schools held an open house for community members on Friday at the high school to show the public the school’s new culinary arts center and the new science area. The culinary arts center will serve as training grounds for kids and adults who want to become chefs, or further their careers in the restaurant industry. Staff photo/Brian Larsen

From the Cook County News Herald - December 14, 2018

From the Ranger, an IRRRB publication

Hibbing Community College (HCC) will offer its culinary program in Grand Marais to help meet the demand for skilled kitchen workers in Cook County’s hospitality-based economy. The county has more than 50 food establishments and resorts, and many have had to reduce hours of operation, increase overtime for existing employees, and condense menus as a result of the culinary workforce shortage.

“The workforce shortage has stressed the bottom line of many of our restaurants,” said Kelsey Kennedy, Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) program coordinator. “The culinary program will strive to produce an influx of skilled kitchen staff as well as grow local culinary workers, enabling the area’s restaurants to return to full operational capacity and in some instances grow and expand.”

A credentialed culinary instructor will lead HCC’s program offered on the North Shore, and students may choose either a 17-week Culinary Arts Certificate (16 credits) or a 34-week program to earn a One-Year Culinary Arts Diploma (31 credits).


The curriculum includes food handling and safety techniques, planning and production, personnel management, cost control methods, nutritional menu planning, food presentation, and banquet service. Bonus programming also includes resume building, future employment options, healthy living, and business and leadership skills.

Classes will be 7.5 hours per day, Monday thru Thursday in the new, stateof the-art culinary classroom at Cook County High School. It is an “Earn While You Learn” program in which students can be connected to a paid culinary job part-time during the school term and full time during the summer months or upon graduation.

Students will work and learn side by side with chefs in many of Cook County’s world-class kitchens, and some resorts will offer housing in conjunction with employment. Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training’s (NEMOJT) Talent Development Program will work with approved employers to help cover partial training and tuition costs.

The certificate and diploma will be from HCC and will indicate to potential employers that the student has the skills necessary to be hired in upper-level kitchen positions such as kitchen manager, food production manager, chef (most locations will require additional work experience), sous chef, banquet chef, and cook/supervisor.

The idea of bringing a culinary program to the North Shore originated from Cook County Workforce Solutions (CCWS), a coalition formed to create solutions to the shortage of skilled employees in Cook County. The coalition works to recruit new employees from outside the region and to develop educational opportunities that aid in attracting and developing workers. Coalition partners include CCHE, HCC, ISD 166, Cook County Chamber of Commerce, Cook County/ Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, North Shore Health, Visit Cook County and private businesses.

“It is truly a community partnership that grew out of a need for trained kitchen staff,” said Kennedy. “Cook County relies heavily on tourism and serves over one million people per year. The restaurants and resorts in our region strongly endorse this new workforce initiative. And other than Hibbing, there is not another accredited culinary program north of St. Paul, so we anticipate this meeting a need even beyond Cook County.”

This program was supported by a Workforce Development grant from Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. Email Danae Beaudette for grant information or call her at 218-735-3022.