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STC Mid-Valley Campus is Cooking Up New Opportunities for Students

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South Texas College recently celebrated the grand opening of its new culinary kitchen at the Mid-Valley campus just in time for fall classes. The new kitchen will allow the program to expand its enrollment and better serve the lower Rio Grande Valley while using the kitchen’s new camera technology to connect with local school districts, the community and to produce culinary demonstrations and cooking shows. STC Image
South Texas College recently celebrated the grand opening of its new culinary kitchen at the Mid-Valley campus just in time for fall classes. The new kitchen will allow the program to expand its enrollment and better serve the lower Rio Grande Valley while using the kitchen’s new camera technology to connect with local school districts, the community and to produce culinary demonstrations and cooking shows. STC Image

Texas Border Business

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By Clarissa Martinez

WESLACO, Texas – South Texas College recently celebrated the grand opening of its new culinary kitchen at the Mid-Valley campus just in time for fall classes.

College leadership and administration attended the ribbon cutting ceremony where STC administration, board of trustees and dignitaries from the city of Weslaco were in attendance. 

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STC President Dr. Ricardo Solis along with other school and city officials at the ribbon cutting. STC Image

“It is critical that the college meets the demands that are taking place here in the Rio Grande Valley,” said STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. “Our goal is to continuously update and reach out to what is needed here in the region. (Culinary Arts) started with a very small operation, and now it has grown, as is evident with this new facility here with its new, state-of-the-art equipment. We’re very fortunate to have 11 instructors and a full cohort. That shows you that students are going to be part of this extraordinary experience and part of the economy. This is a very unique field and takes a lot of work and dedication, but it’s one that is in high demand.”

The new kitchen will allow the program to expand its enrollment and better serve the lower Rio Grande Valley while using the kitchen’s new camera technology to connect with local school districts, the community and to produce culinary demonstrations and cooking shows.  

Ruben Lemus, Culinary Arts instructor, said the new kitchen is equipped with industry-compliant commercial equipment and students will learn to use gas stoves, convection ovens, gas grills and fryers.  

“The technology built in to the kitchen is the most significant resource as it will allow multimedia capabilities for instruction, and we can provide more virtual classes,” Lemus said. 

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STC’s Culinary Arts program is the only program of its type south of San Antonio that is part of an accredited institution offering multiple certificates and associate degree plans to prepare students for careers in the culinary industry. It has been growing steadily in McAllen for five years and over the past three years at the Mid-Valley campus, Lemus said. 

“Our industry is in high demand, and our students are not only meeting that demand but meeting it with high quality,” Lemus said. “We are excited to be able to serve our Lower Valley students and community better.”

STC Trustee of District 6 Rene Guajardo and Trustee of District 7 Danny Guzman said the opening of the culinary kitchen is a testament to the ambition and vision of the college to create a foundation for students and expand programs to the Mid-Valley.  

“I know we’re going to continue to do great things here at the Mid-Valley campus,” Guajardo said. “We started this three years ago, and we’re so proud of the new space we’ve created. We’re going to educate and reach so many people and the new cohort is going to do marvelous things here.”

Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes was also in attendance at the ribbon cutting and toured the new culinary kitchen. Fuentes noted that he was once an adjunct professor at STC before his time as an elected county official and has seen how the campus has been “extremely special to the community.”

“We have a great relationship with STC where we work together on so many different things and we have to foster that growth,” Fuentes said. “The growth of any community is always based on higher education and I know that this institution, as it continues to expand and invest in itself, will bring in talent. Congratulations on the investment and having the foresight to continue to invest in yourselves.”

STC’s Culinary Arts program offers courses at Mid-Valley that utilize both in-person and online instruction. Students can choose from three associate degree plans including an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts with a Specialization in Baking and Pastry Arts or an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts with a Specialization in Restaurant Management. Students can also earn certificates in Commercial Baking or Commercial Cooking. 

“Culinary is a medium to many other disciplines,” Lemus said. “We have nutritionists taking our courses, cafeteria industry professionals who get certified or accredited, business students who want to understand food accounting, students wanting to break into the food hospitality industry and students who just want cooking as a lifelong skill. This is where the growth is coming from.”

For more information on the only Culinary Arts program visit southtexascollege.edu/culinary.

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