by Dana Ferrante
“Standing at the front of the Metropolitan College Programs in Food & Wine renovated demonstration kitchen recently, Jacques Pépin deftly scraped his paring knife along a block of butter, coaxing—as if by magic—the petals of a rose from the block. Famed chef, prolific cookbook author, and Emmy-winning TV host Pépin (Hon.’11) then turned to his audience of MET culinary arts students, and said, “If I had to explain [this] with words, after half a page, you’d say, ‘What is he talking about?’”
Now, thanks to more than $200,000 in renovations, the renamed Groce Pépin Culinary Innovation Laboratory is providing students with an even closer look at the maestro’s hands at work. With the demo kitchen’s first major renovation in 30 years, the space now boasts a gleaming new charcoal gray granite countertop, stainless steel stove, glass door fridge, and commercial sink station, not to mention freshly painted walls.
The launch of the recently renamed Groce Pépin Culinary Innovation Laboratory kitchen was open to culinary arts students, who can now observe visiting chefs’ techniques up close and at different angles thanks to five newly installed overhead cameras and wall-mounted screens. The most significant change, however, is a series of five overhead cameras and wall-mounted monitors that replaced a large mirror previously hung above the kitchen’s central island. The new technology enables students to watch cooking demos from multiple angles—whether they’re in the room or tuning in from afar, says Potter Palmer, Food & Wine programs director. “The new system allows us to stream and record events,” Palmer says, making “it simple and easy to expand our classes to be both in person and online via Zoom. The upgrade has already proven invaluable. Faced with the pandemic’s Omicron surge in early January, MET made the tough decision to move the 14-week culinary arts program completely online.”
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