Chefs, Elected Officials Break Ground On $32 Million New Orleans Culinary Center
NEW ORLEANS – All the ingredients have come together for New Orleans' first world-class culinary center.
Elected officials, investors, and supporters were all smiles as they sifted dirt with shovel-sized spoons at the groundbreaking for the $32 million New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) on Jan. 16.
More than 100 in attendance heard speeches from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, restaurateurs Ti Martin, Dickie Brennan and more.
In 2019, the historic five-story building at the corner of Howard and Carondelet is set to become New Orleans’ first center for culinary and hospitality training where chefs, entrepreneurs, mixologists and restaurateurs will be given the tools to start a culinary career in New Orleans.
“How do we not already have this?” said Ti Martin, chairman of the culinary center’s board, and co-proprietor of Commander’s Family of Restaurants.
The center will have five dedicated teaching kitchens, a beverage lab for wine and spirits programs, a retail café space on the ground level, classrooms and office spaces for NOCHI and Tulane University. An event center on the fifth floor will have its showcase catering kitchen and terraces boasting views of downtown New Orleans.
The center will teach culinary and pastry arts in an accelerated six month program, a culinary arts program and community classes for food and wine enthusiasts.
The private-public partnership includes Tulane University, which will offer non-degree programs in the hospitality industry.
“NOCHI is going to prepare people from all over the state for successful careers,” said Gov. Edwards. The center will create a pipeline of highly trained culinary professionals.
NOCHI is already approved and licensed by the State of Louisiana’s Board of Regents as a Proprietary School.
Carol Markowitz, who has over 15 years of multi-industry experience in strategic and financial planning, is the executive director for NOCHI.
Attendees at the groundbreaking event—which included well-known executive chefs Troy McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Michael Gulotta, of Maypop and MoPho and Jason Goodenough of Carrollton Market— were able to see renderings of the culinary center while festive bartenders shook up and served gin fizz beverages.
*Photos: Jenny Peterson / staff
Many chefs in the kitchen
The culinary center was made possible by the support of a number of businesses, elected officials and organizations. The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) is providing equipment for the facility; a commitment from Tulane University to launch new programs in hospitality entrepreneurship at NOCHI; and the center has a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. NOCHI closed on additional financing from Fidelity Bank, IBERIABANK, Enhanced Capital, and United Fund Advisors to rehab and renovate the historic 93,000 square-foot facility. Woodward Design+Build is the general contractor for the project and it was designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple architecture firm.
The center is located at 725 Howard Ave.
For more information, visit www.nochi.org.
-By Jenny Peterson, Associate News Editor, Biz New Orleans