Focus on Foundation: Culinary Theatre
A Tasteful Investment
The new high-tech Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre at Fox Valley Technical College will be the first of its kind in Wisconsin.
The recipe for successful training partnerships requires buy-in from industry leaders. In the case of Fox Valley Technical College’s Culinary Arts program, its industry partners have more than bought into a new concept for enhanced training; they’ve financially supported the idea as well. Plans are underway for the state’s training leader in culinary arts to add a theatre and demonstration kitchen to its array of educational resources.
The new facility will have a state-of-the-art kitchen with 126 seats arranged in semi-circle tiers to give students a clear view of live cooking demonstrations. It will also be equipped with digital cameras and large screens to provide close-ups and technology to record and broadcast presentations. “We’ll be the first training college in Wisconsin with this kind of facility,” notes Chef Jeff Igel, department chair and instructor in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs.
The Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre will be located near the main entrance. It will also be available for use by outside organizations. “The finished facility will be ideal for many types of corporate and community meetings,” says Igel.
Igel began the theatre project by approaching faculty, board members, and local industry leaders with a remodeling concept. One of the first to express interest was Philip Jones, president and CEO of Jones Dairy Farm, a large and well-respected family-owned food processing and food service corporation headquartered in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
“We believe that it’s important to support schools in our industry,” states Jones. “Fox Valley Technical College is a customer of ours. We’ve gotten to know and respect the people there and have supported a scholarship program for years. When Chef Jeff presented the idea of building new facilities, I gave him a commitment and a challenge.”
Jones Dairy Farm agreed to fund 50% of the project with a lead gift of $125,000 if the college could raise the rest of the money. The Fox Valley Tech team quickly started raising funds.
“I want to commend Chef Jeff and his staff on making the idea a reality,” states Jones. “Their efforts are incredible in terms of taking a challenge and making the absolute most out of it. I think this says a lot about Fox Valley Technical College.”
Program graduates, suppliers, students, and others have been part of a group of generous stakeholders, with many pledging to donate $2,000 a year for five years. Equipment manufacturers have agreed to donate appliances.
Current student Katie Oskey, who is pursuing a double major in Culinary Arts and in Hotel & Restaurant Management, says the project will create great learning experiences. “The theatre will bring our guest speaker options to a whole new level, and our culinary and hospitality student clubs can use the setting for many activities.”
“This whole process has been very humbling,” states Igel. “The best compliment I received was when a donor pointed out that we’d raised over $400,000 without even showing anyone our building plans on paper. People clearly have faith that their money with us is a good investment.”
35 Years of Building a Foundation for Giving
Established in 1976, the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation, Inc. continues to help meet the needs of students. Here is a snapshot of a record year of fundraising by the FVTC Foundation during 2010-2011:
- More than $2.4 million in financial and in-kind contributions
- Awarded 715 scholarships to currently enrolled FVTC students and incoming high school seniors, an 11% increase from the previous year
- $428,300 in scholarships, a 17% increase from the previous year
- Nearly $155,000 in staff giving (15% above goal)
- Since the first year of staff giving in 2003, through the Foundation’s Staff and Leadership Giving Campaign, FVTC employees have provided more than $1 million in support for student scholarships and college programs.