San Juan College considers culinary arts program

Survey will help school gauge community interest

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The kitchen staff prepares a chopped steak on Nov. 2 at Porters Restaurant & Smokehouse in Farmington. In response to pleas by local restaurant owners, San Juan College is considering adding a culinary arts program.
  • A survey will be available online through September.
  • Once the results have been compiled, college officials will decide whether to offer the program.
  • San Juan College has never offered a culinary arts program.


FARMINGTON — People interested in becoming a chef or opening their own restaurant may have the opportunity to learn those skills at San Juan College. 

The college began conducting a survey this month to help gauge community interest in culinary arts. The survey will be open through September, and the college hopes to have raw data compiled by mid-October. The survey is available at

"The survey should tell us the number of interested people," said Alicia Corbell, the college's business coordinator.

The survey asks people if they have worked in the food industry, if they would be interested in a one-year certificate program and what type of courses interest them. Those courses could include banquet catering classes or gourmet chef courses. 

After the results from the survey are evaluated, the college will determine if it will offer the program, when the program might start, what facilities will be needed and other details.

"There's a lot of moving pieces that we would have to figure out," she said. 

Corbell said representatives of several restaurants approached the college about a year ago describing their struggles with finding employees and asking if the college would start a culinary arts program. The program could train the employees, who then would go to work at restaurants.


"Employers in the area have voiced a need and desire to become participants," Corbell said. 

Rhonda Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the college, said the college has never offered a culinary arts program, although it has offered cooking classes as part of its community learning center programs. The community learning center offers classes on a variety of subjects to the public, but those classes are not intended to help people earn degrees or certificates.

Liesl Dees, the community learning center director, said cooking classes have seen varied popularity based on the topic. For example, a cake decorating class offered in January was so popular the college had to offer a second session.

She said this fall the cooking classes include a canning class, a class called cooking the gardens' bounty, a class about green vegetables, cooking made easy and one dish wonders. Information about the classes can be found in the college's community learning center catalog, available at

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.