While a Charleston campus of the Culinary Institute of America isn't in the cards, a new partnership may result in more of the culinary school's students finding their way here.
In an attempt to mitigate restaurant staffing shortages, Charleston Grill's Mickey Bakst approached the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) about setting up a local branch. But because the idea didn't come with millions of dollars in guaranteed funding, "it was totally shot down," Bakst told The Post and Courier earlier this month.
Yet even if CIA students can't study here, they can still perform their externships - a 15-week work placement - in Charleston kitchens. The Grocery this month became the latest local restaurant to earn a spot on the school's list of approved externship sites, joining Husk, McCrady's, Magnolias, Cypress, Peninsula Grill, SNOB and High Cotton.
"Could this bring more chefs to your area? Absolutely," says CIA spokesman Stephan Hengst. "What tends to happen is that many externs fall in love with the areas in which they work, and that might bring more seasoned chefs back to Charleston in the future."
In order for a restaurant to win the CIA's endorsement as an externship location, Hengst says its chef must "develop a plan that offers a students a good overview of the various roles in the kitchen, and affords them the opportunity to learn along the way."
There are currently 1500 CIA externship sites around the world.
According to The Grocery's publicist, Becky Tanenbaum, "Apparently a student had listed the restaurant as a choice, and when they realized that were not an official option, (chef) Kevin (Johnson) completed the paperwork."
Hengst adds, "We're always glad to have new restaurants added to the list."