The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

El Camino needs to bring back culinary classes

Kae Takazawa | Special to The Union

El Camino College is known as one of the top community colleges in Southern California, with award-winning programs including the student-run newspaper, sports-winning teams and forensics.

There’s something for everyone at El Camino College.

Except, there are no culinary classes.

El Camino College officials strive to provide classes and programs for everyone, but doesn’t offer anything in one of the biggest and most diverse job markets in Los Angeles: the food industry.

The pandemic negatively impacted LA’s restaurant scene, forcing restaurants to lay off thousands of employees as they struggled to stay afloat, some even shutting down entirely.

However, the restaurant business is back and booming. By hiring as many workers as they can, they are getting back to their pre-pandemic numbers.

California’s Employment Development Department, a government organization, reports since the end of 2020, over 100,000 restaurant jobs have been added to the state.

This amount of restaurant jobs being recovered and created means students could take advantage of having a culinary arts degree, especially with how close El Camino College is to many of the restaurants that desperately need employees.

Unfortunately, no such program is offered, despite the resources to do so being available.

It’s important to mention El Camino did offer culinary classes in the past.

The program included numerous classes focusing on food preparation, baking, catering and restaurant management. The classes also offered a certificate from the American Culinary Federation.

But unfortunately, those classes are long gone, being cut by the college along with many other classes due to statewide educational budget cuts in 2009, and haven’t appeared since.

Along with student benefits with these classes, it can also benefit employees on campus.

Culinary students can run on-campus services like cafes and cafeterias, providing low-cost nutritional food to students.

El Camino has, with all honesty, terrible on-campus food options. Students are forced to choose between overpriced and mediocre burgers at Café Camino or expensive tiny cups of Starbucks-licensed coffee at El Cappuccino.

Both are run by the Bay Area-based company, Pacific Dining, prompting many to either bring their own food or go off campus for cheaper and better alternatives.

For comparison, LA Harbor College has its own cafeteria and bistro operated by the college’s culinary students.

Fresh food and low prices can turn into a popular spot for students to get a meal without hurting their wallets, and ensure its nutritional value.

At Cerritos College, the culinary students run the Falcon Room restaurant and run their own on-campus food catering service.

Despite the high standards of a fine-dining restaurant, it still manages to remain affordable to students.

Their most expensive item is a grilled top sirloin steak at $12. Only $2 more expensive than a cheeseburger combo at Café Camino.

El Camino does have the resources to start up a culinary program. The Campus Deli, located next to the Art Building, has been unused for at least two years.

The building could be utilized as a classroom for a cooking environment, and give students additional food options on campus.

If the class was offered in the past, it can be offered again now.

It’s clear culinary classes are needed, and wanted, on campus. After all, there is one cooking class being offered right now – for children ages 6 through 13 on Saturdays.

El Camino should offer culinary degrees and classes to the rest of us students too.

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