CANTERBURY — Recalling the lyric of "Simple Gifts," the enduring Shaker song, for both Lakes Region Community College and Canterbury Shaker Village and their partnership to house the college's Culinary and Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management programs at the historic site: "'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be."
Yesterday, when Scott Kalicki, president of the college, and Funi Burdick, executive director of Canterbury Shaker Village, inc. signed the lease both spoke of their "shared educational mission," which Kalicki said they would pursue "in sophisticated and synergistic ways."
Kalicki recalled that the idea of locating the programs in Canterbury sprang from a suggestion by the former president of the college Mark Edelstein. Meanwhile, Burdick said that the village, in seeking "to stay vibrant and relevant," was offering workshops, including those in culinary arts, and "encouraging people to get their hands dirty." When she learned that the college was looking for a new home for Culinary Arts she remembered the Shaker motto — "we make you a kindly welcome."
The college will occupy a three-story building, reconstructed and furnished in the Shaker manner but fitted with a commercial kitchen, where it will conducts its classes and operate a restaurant. For the college the village provides a home for two popular programs that have been adrift since last spring when, after structural issues forced them to leave the Belmont Mill, they shuttled between the technical centers at Laconia and Concord high schools. For the village, the presence of the programs and the restaurant enriches the offerings at the historic site and serves its mission to sustain the Shaker legacy, while providing annual revenue of $40,000.
The production and preparation of food, Burdick noted was prominent strain among the Shakers. She said that the village has hosted chefs from around the state to conduct workshops and prepare meals drawing on Shaker recipes. "Lots of restaurants have wanted to lease the space," she said, "but, we don't want to be a landlord." The college, she continued, represents an opportunity "to integrate education and hospitality with our mission to 'rethink tradition, rethink Shaker Village."
Burdick anticipated that the students would be matched to the "Shaker Box Lunch" offered at the village. Furthermore, she said that the village also intends to develop a farming program, reviving a significant element of the Shaker community, as part of an initiative to encourage organic agriculture and sustainable living.
Patrick Hall, coordinator of the Culinary and Pastry Arts program, was excited at the prospect of what he called "food-to-table. It's the big thing and it's what the public wants," he said. He said that learning in an environment where the ingredients are grown and harvested would enhance the experience of students. Hall is eager to open the restaurant that is expected to serve its first diners in October.
William Walsh, chief instructor of the program, expected the setting would add to the popularity of the program. The commercial kitchen, along with storage and office space, is on the ground floor. What he called an "a la carte kitchen" and dining room, which seats 40, is on the floor above. A function room stretches across the top floor.
Walsh said there were 11 students when he joined the program seven years ago and he expects 110 when classes begin in the fall. The kitchen, he said, will accommodate classes of 10 to 12, which approximates the student-teacher ratio of the program. With the restaurant, Walsh stressed that the venue provides an ideal environment to teach everything from waiting tables to preparing deserts in elegant surroundings.
"When students complete this program here," he said, "they can step right into places like Church Landing."
Kalicki said that that ultimately the college intends to return the programs to the Laconia campus, but quickly added that he expected to pursue the partnership with the village "as far as we can take it." He said that the 2013-2014 state budget includes $3.3-million for construction of a new building to house the automotive program at the college and design the renovation of the space it will vacate.
Burdick is looking forward to an ongoing partnership. "Potential and integration are the key words," she said. "We're just going to joy the ride and hope it lasts for a long time."
CAPTION: Scott Kaliicki, president of Lakes Region Community College, and Funi Burdick, executive director of Canterbury Shaker Village, Inc., yesterday signed the lease that will provide the college's Culinary and Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management programs with a new home at the National Historic Landmark where students will operate a restaurant. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).
Caption: Scott Kalicki, president of Lakes Region Community College, and Funi Burdick, executive director of Canterbury Shaker Village, Inc. are flanked by Patrick Hall (right), program coordinator, and William Walsh (left), chief instructor, of the college's Culinary and Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management programs, which will be housed at the village. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).