4 months ago

Auburn University to build world-class culinary center for students, tourism industry

A culinary science center unlike any other is coming to Auburn University in 2021.

The university’s Board of Trustees took the final steps Feb. 15 to create the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a transformative complex blending a learning environment with a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant.

“The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center will be an academic learning environment equipped to launch our students into leadership roles in the culinary and hospitality industries,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “The campus and community will also reap the benefits of having such a dynamic destination for food, hospitality and instruction so close to home.”

The 142,000-square-foot facility will provide students interested in hospitality and culinary sciences with hands-on learning experiences in a teaching hotel and a teaching restaurant, as well as a range of classrooms and demonstration and food production laboratories.

“Our students will have unparalleled opportunities to learn best practices in the hospitality and culinary sciences within a luxury setting from the best in the industry,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences. “The entire complex will provide guests with an immersion in hospitality that is second to none.”

Auburn University is home to Alabama’s only professionally accredited hospitality program. The new center will be a draw for students currently in top culinary programs in high schools in Alabama and across the nation.

The facility will also become a destination for alumni and new guests alike who enjoy food and beverage tourism.

“The potential impact is enormous. The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is going to be one of the most interesting and exciting culinary education centers in America, if not the world,” said Frank Stitt, owner and executive chef of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham and 2018 James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Restaurant.

The Alabama Tourism Department reported an estimated 26.6 million people visited the state in 2017, generating more than $14.3 billion in revenue. One of the primary motivations of tourists in visiting Alabama is the state’s prominent and growing food legacy.

The challenge for Alabama is to maintain the tourism growth while facing a shortage of appropriately qualified employees in culinary and hospitality trades.

“There is an urgent need to rethink Alabama’s current workforce development strategy,” said Martin O’Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management in Auburn’s College of Human Sciences. “Auburn University is responding to this challenge with new and revitalized hospitality and culinary sciences curricula and development of the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center.”

The plans for such a facility at Auburn started more than a decade ago, when Henton tasked O’Neill and Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, to visit globally recognized programs and facilities to benchmark the center’s development.

O’Neill and Van der Reijden visited the best of the best from Singapore to Switzerland and all of Europe, and developed a plan to create an academic resource for Auburn students interested in culinary-focused careers.

Plans received strong support in 2017 when James W. “Jimmy” Rane and the Rane family made a $12 million commitment to the building’s construction. Rane is a 1968 Auburn alumnus, longtime member of the Board of Trustees and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Great Southern Wood Preserving. The board later approved naming the facility in honor of his parents, Tony and Libba Rane.

Gifts to the College of Human Sciences, university general funds and revenue from the hotel, restaurant, a food hall and leased living units will cover the estimated project cost of $95.4 million. The Rane Culinary Science Center will be the first revenue-generating academic building at Auburn. The university seeks to raise an additional $13 million in philanthropic support through various naming opportunities within the building.

Construction at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street will begin after an April groundbreaking ceremony.

The innovative teaching environment of the center will provide an inspiring learning platform for students to plan, market, manage and evaluate a commercial hospitality operation, while at the same time providing them with cutting-edge opportunities to develop technical and leadership skills.

Standing at the intersection of campus and community, the Rane Culinary Science Center will be a gathering place for all to use and enjoy.

Teaching areas of the center include:

The Laurel

The Laurel is the luxury boutique teaching hotel, where hospitality management students will gain hands-on practical experience working in all areas of hotel operations in a luxury 32-room facility. The spa on the sixth floor and the rooftop garden are parts of the Laurel. The garden will provide vegetables and herbs for food production throughout the center. The rooftop space can house small events. The Laurel is one of the center’s many features that can be enjoyed by the Auburn community and visiting guests.

1856

A 40-seat teaching restaurant, 1856 will feature a “Chef in Residence” program, where different nationally acclaimed chefs will provide a chef de cuisine to work hand-in-hand with culinary science instructors and students to create a restaurant of his or her own vision. The practical educational experience for junior-level students will take place during lunch service, while senior-level students will execute dinner service with instructors at their side. The restaurant will be open to the public.

Heyday Market

The 9,000-square-foot food hall will provide a number of food vendors for all to enjoy. A coffee bar will be inside the center with a small operational coffee roastery. Two vendor spaces will be food incubators, providing hospitality management and culinary science graduates the space at a minimal cost to begin and grow their own restaurants before venturing out on their own.

Wine Appreciation Center

On the second floor above 1856, the center will feature a tasting room for 50 students. The instructor will be a Master Sommelier or a Certified Wine Educator who will not only be teaching wine appreciation classes for students in the program and the campus at large, but also allow the community and hotel guests to experience such classes and tastings in the evening.

Distilled Spirits Center

Adjacent to the Wine Appreciation Center on the second floor, the Distilled Spirits Center will feature a micro distillery for the purpose of research as well as showing students the distillation process in an experiential sense. Classes will be open campus-wide and will allow an opportunity for the Auburn community and hotel guests to experience distilled spirit tasting before dinner in the Laurel.

Brewing Science Laboratory

This facility will feature a state-of-the-art, open concept, micro-teaching brewery, tasting room and microbiology laboratory to provide brewing science and hospitality management students with the hands-on education and training necessary for employment in the ever-expanding craft brewing industry. The facility will expose students to all aspects of commercial beer production, such as scientific principles and facility operation, as well as technological innovation and its influence upon production methods, quality control and the sensory profile of all beer produced.

Culinary Exhibition Lab

Up to 80 students can observe demonstrations in the lab from atrium-style seating on the second floor. The design of the lab on the lower level will include non-conventional cooking stations to expose students to various cooking techniques and innovative methods. The space lends itself to commercial cooking demonstrations, not only for Saturday culinary workshops, which are open to the public, but any night of the week for the community and hotel guests.

Food and Beverage Media Studio

Near the line in the exhibition lab, the studio will teach food and beverage photography and videography, helping to prepare future chefs, bar operators and restaurateurs to be media savvy. This media studio will be a unique resource for a hospitality management program in the United States.

Additional features of the center:

Culinary Get-Aways

A rotating roster of celebrity chefs will create weekend workshops using every aspect of the center, with guests staying at the Laurel, enjoying the rooftop gardens, eating in the Heyday Market and 1856, experiencing a cooking demonstration and taking a class in the exhibition kitchen and wine tasting in the wine appreciation center.

The Residences at the Laurel

Only six upper-level residences will be available for long-term leasing. Each 1,650-square-foot unit will have two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full kitchen and space for entertaining. Residents will enjoy the rooftop swimming pool and bar, full-service spa and other amenities, as well as concierge services and valet parking from the hotel.

This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Alabama high school students’ experiment set to launch to International Space Station

One local public education system in Alabama is helping give a new meaning to the phrase, “The sky’s the limit.”

Students from Winfield City High School are set to have their experiment launch on Sunday to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

SpaceX-18 is set to depart Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:32 p.m. EDT on July 21 with the payload designated “SSEP15 – Gemini.” This signifies SSEP’s 15th overall flight opportunity and is the 13th SSEP mission to the ISS. NanoRacks handles stowage of the payload on the spacecraft.

The launch will come the day after the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.

Student experiments were chosen from around the Western Hemisphere through a process that began in the fall of 2018.

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Entitled “Purification of Water in Microgravity,” Winfield’s experiment will join experiments from 39 other communities in being tested in a laboratory setting aboard the ISS over an approximately four-week period.

Winfield’s proposal summary as follows:

The recent discovery of water on Mars has opened a possibility of new ways that the life sustaining liquid can be obtained in space travel. This new method would rely on collecting water from space bodies that are not our own. The only problem with this method is determining if this water would be safe to drink. Our team is proposing to study if microgravity has any effect on the purification of water. We would collect water from a non-sterile source, like a pond and mix it with purification tablets. Next, we would test the water to see if anything harmful survived.

The Winfield 12th grade students designated as co-principal investigators on the experiment are Luke Clark, Tanner Edmond, Davis Holdbrooks, Luke Jungels and Savannah Williamson. Jennifer Birmingham is their teacher facilitator.

Winfield’s SSEP students precisely measuring the amount of iodine tablet for their Water Purification experiment. (Contributed)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), whose district includes Winfield, told Yellowhammer News that he is proud of his young constituents.

“It’s great to see these students engaging in this type of science,” the congressman said. “I congratulate them and their teachers at Winfield for participating in this program.”

“It also shows how space applications have a direct impact on the quality of life back here on earth. I look forward to following their experiment and seeing its outcome,” Aderholt concluded.

SpaceX-18 is slated to berth at the ISS one to four days after launching.

Read more about “SSEP Mission 13 to ISS” here.

Winfield City Schools also was represented on “SSEP Mission 12 to ISS” last year, when Winfield Middle School students saw their experiment make the trip.

Watch:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Mobile Bay reefs project aims to help renew aquatic habitats, vanishing shoreline

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

If you were able to travel back a couple of hundred years and visit the edge of Mobile Bay near where Helen Wood Park is today, you’d see miles and miles of marshland, veined with tidal creeks and teeming with fish and other marine creatures that look to the safety of the marsh to spawn.

At low tide, there would be vast mounds of oysters around the edge of an estuary that was about 30 feet deep at its deepest point. The marshes and oyster beds of the past didn’t only serve as havens for creatures. They reduced the ability of storm tides to erode the mainland.

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But a lot can change in a pair of centuries. The oyster reefs that used to encircle the bay have dwindled, and there is more ship traffic. As a result, waves eroded the marshes and shore.

“We’ve changed the dynamics of the bay,” said Judy Haner, marine and freshwater programs director for The Nature Conservancy, which is leading the charge in rebuilding Mobile Bay. “What we’re doing now is trying to give that shoreline a fighting chance. We want to help boost those habitats, not only for fish and birds and wildlife, but also to protect the shoreline from erosion.”

In this effort, the Alabama Power Foundation provided resources to build reefs in the brackish waters off Helen Wood Park, in Lourdes on the west side of Mobile Bay, and the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) provided manpower.

In May 2018, some 60 APSO volunteers – aged 12 to 70-plus – rolled up their sleeves, put on their boots and clamdiggers and went about the business of reef building.

In the past, The Nature Conservancy had attempted to build replacement reefs using bags of spent oyster shells – the same ingredient nature uses for reefs. But the erosive power of waves proved too intense, scattering the bags of oyster shells. Now, the conservancy opts to use “oyster castles” to construct new reefs.

Oyster castles are a relatively new way of constructing artificial reefs, using interlocking 35-pound concrete blocks. APSO volunteers developed a system using plastic “barges” to move the blocks along a human chain that snaked out into the rich brown marsh waters adjacent to a bridge over the Dog River.

Over the course of eight hours, the team of Nature Conservancy and APSO volunteers built seven artificial reefs.

“This was a new project for us,” said Erin Delaporte, an Alabama Power Customer Service manager in Mobile who is the APSO chapter president and coordinated the project. “It was a very labor-intensive day, but it was a wonderful day. It was tough work. I heard someone say they had worked eight hours on the project, but it took 48 hours to recover.

“It was worth it,” Delaporte said. “It was one of the most unique projects we’ve ever done in Mobile.”

As for the reefs, the positive effect was instantaneous.

“We wanted to restore the vertical topography of that reef and restore the waves, and you see that pretty much right away,” Haner said.

While there will be future scientific measurement of the growth of the reefs, native fish and crabs found them soon after completion of the APSO project.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

15 hours ago

Montevallo named Tree City USA

Montevallo was named a 2018 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the city’s commitment to effective urban forest management.

Montevallo met the program’s four requirements of having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance or proclamation.

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Tree City USA has been around since 1976, providing a framework for cities to keep their communities green and full of trees.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community firsthand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

Montevallo also has Orr Park, a preserve along Shoal Creek known for tree carvings by local artist Tim Tingle.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, more than 3,400 communities have committed to becoming a Tree City USA. Several cities in Alabama have made the commitment, including Auburn, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. The total population of Tree City USA communities nationwide is about 145 million.

Trees serve a great purpose, increasing property values and wildlife habitat, while reducing home cooling costs and air pollution, said Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost.

“Our natural world is at the very core of our existence. In Montevallo, we are a proud tribe of tree-huggers,” Cost said. “Being named a Tree City USA is a distinct honor, which we wholeheartedly embrace, appreciate and celebrate.”

To learn more about Tree City USA and the Arbor Day Foundation, visit https://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/about.cfm.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

VIDEO: McConnell’s Alabama relatives were slaveowners, big money being raised in the U.S. Senate race, citizenship question on census impacts Alabama and more on Guerrilla Politics …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) ancestors make him responsible for reparations?

— What does a surprising $300,000 in fundraising by State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) say about the Republican 2020 U.S. Senate primary?

— Now that Trump has caved on the citizenship question, what happens to the reapportionment lawsuit that has been brought by Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by criminal defense attorney Jake Watson to discuss the Jeffrey Epstein case and its fallout.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the national media’s desire to have extremely flawed candidates on the ballot in Republican states solely so Democrats will have a chance at winning.

Guerrilla Politics – 7/14/19

VIDEO: McConnell's Alabama relatives were slaveowners, big money being raised in the U.S. Senate race, citizenship question on census impacts Alabama congressional seat lawsuit and more on Guerrilla Politics …

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

17 hours ago

State Sen. Chris Elliott: After Coastal Alabama, Toll Authority legislation could be next used in Birmingham, Huntsville

The use of tolls to fund part of the estimated $2.1 billion price tag for the proposed I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge has been the hot-button political issue for Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

Not only has it become a major topic in Alabama’s first congressional election campaign underway in southwestern Alabama, but it has also become one for the 2020 statewide U.S. Senate election campaign also underway.

Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law legislation that according to State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) could cut between $100 million and $200 million off that $2.1 billion price-tag for the project. During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” that aired Friday, Elliott touted the SB154 bill’s cost-cutting effect.

However, he argued that beyond its use in Coastal Alabama, the bill could be used in other parts of the state, which suggests more tolled roadways could be on the way for Alabama.

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“It’s going to be utilized,” Elliott said. “And when we realized this is where ALDOT was headed, we knew we needed to update the legislation. We needed to make sure we did everything we could to make efficient as possible so that if a toll was necessary, and ALDOT seems to think and probably is correct in saying a toll is necessary because of the lack of federal funding, then we do everything we can to drive the price down as much as we can to make sure that the cost to the folks in Alabama is as low as possible.”

“And that toll authority legislation, while it is probably going to be rolled out for the first time in coastal Alabama, could be used in other parts of the state as well, which is why I think it ultimately passed both houses and had the governor’s signature on it because the next time it gets used is going to be in Birmingham, or it’s going to be in Huntsville between Huntsville and Decatur, or some other area like that,” he added.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.