Lake Superior State University’s Les Cheneaux Culinary Arts Regional Center in Hessel was named 2020 Institution of the Year by the Les Cheneaux Chamber of Commerce. The culinary school and summer fine-dining restaurant received the honor on Nov. 11, 2020, at a chamber meeting.
“We are both proud and grateful to be rewarded for good work,” said Zachary Schroeder, director and instructor of culinary arts at the 5,000 square-foot site. “We always keep our community in mind when making decisions, and we’d like to think it’s one of the reasons we were recognized with this award.”
The state-of-the-art culinary school opened in September 2014 with an inaugural class of eight enrolled in the one-year, three-term certificate program. Featuring a fully equipped commercial kitchen, it now can instruct up to 20 future chefs, kitchen managers, and restaurant owners. The adjoining restaurant, overlooking Hessel Bay and the Les Cheneaux Islands and featuring a boathouse-themed dining room and deck accommodating 80-plus diners cumulatively, launched in May 2015. It focuses on farm-to-table cuisine and sustainable solutions. The culinary arts chef certificate program became part of LSSU in 2019.
Under supervision of two instructors and an administrator, students help run the front and back of the house when the restaurant is open to the public during the summer. Through this culminating activity, they gain hands-on experience in all parts of the restaurant business: cooking, composting, hospitality, managing, and more.
“We improve every year while keeping the same core values: educating students to prepare and source local foods to help our area food culture grow and prosper, purchasing from and spreading the word about local farmers, and housing a summer internship facility for our students that operates as a summer restaurant for our community,” added Schroeder.
“Enveloping our culinary certificate program within a working restaurant model is a win-win-win,” agreed Dr. Kimberly Muller, dean of the College of Innovation and Solutions, who oversees the culinary arts chef certificate program. “Our students get real-world practice. Our neighbors have a world-class establishment to patronize for wonderful meals. Lastly, our region benefits economically in the process.”
LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley observed, “This accomplishment embodies part of our mission to equip graduates with the knowledge and practical skills to craft a life of meaningful employment while enhancing the quality of life of the Great Lakes region. It reflects our core value of stewardship. And it incorporates three of the pillars of our strategic plan: student learning, community partnerships, and sustainability. So, pun intended, we eat up this tribute.”