Forum editorial: Culinary institute great idea

A comprehensive culinary institute for downtown Fargo should be pursued with all the vigor and vision community leaders can muster. It’s the right time for such a project. Resources to get it done need only be coordinated in order to accomplish the task. It’s not a new idea, but this time the concept can become substance.

That’s the aim of former Fargo Theatre executive director Margie Bailly, who earlier this week convened 40 potential stakeholders at, appropriately, one of downtown Fargo’s finest restaurants. Enthusiasm was the appetizer but so was a pragmatic main course of just how to get it done and who might be involved.

That’s where Fargo-Moorhead’s strengths come into play. Culinary and hospitality arts of one sort or another are taught at three area schools of higher learning. Leaders of two of those schools, President Dean Bresciani of North Dakota State University and President John Richman of North Dakota State College of Science, are on board with developing a program that would coordinate and harmonize studies to create a curriculum appropriate to a culinary institute. In other words, much of the expertise is already on the campuses – and certainly in the best F-M restaurant kitchens – to form a unique multifaceted partnership that likely would include specialized hotel management.

The meeting this week was a good beginning. More needs be done, not the least of which is funding an institute. Before funds can be secured, the nature of a partnership and the level of interest must be assessed. A steering committee will be formed to advance the initiative.

But whatever shape the institute takes, it should be rooted in downtown Fargo, with its concentration of food places, arts venues, and a need for more hotel rooms. Go for it.

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Department: Culinary Arts

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