INFORUM: Forum editorial: Culinary center on track

What started out as an intriguing idea is on pace to become reality in downtown Fargo. It’s a “culinary center” that would blend education, the culture of food and food preparation, and marketing in a single comprehensive and accessible program. The idea is not new, but bringing together essential stakeholders is putting substance to the idea.

Several partners from the public and private sectors are on board. The vital education component would be managed by expertise already in place at the North Dakota State School of Science, which has a presence in north Fargo. Margie Bailly, the legendary former executive of the historic Fargo Theatre, is coordinating discussions to make the center happen. Downtown, with its new vitality and diversity of dining, entertainment and living spaces, would be the ideal site, and a major downtown developer is working with the group. Restauranteurs see the potential of a culinary center, and also are participating in discussions.

The timetable is flexible, but Bailly and the partners think it will take about five years for a full-blown site to be operational. Meanwhile, programs associated with the evolving center can come on line sooner. “It is definitely moving forward,” Bailly said, “and we’re continuing to connect the dots.”

It’s a great concept that has worked well in other urban centers. Culinary institutes are fixtures in most major cities and in many smaller cities. Fargo’s downtown is a national success story that adds chapters every year. The renaissance of downtown has made it a destination for entertainment, retailing, business and dining. A culinary institute will be a perfect fit.

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Department: Culinary Arts

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