The Culinary College's success

November 30, 1992

In 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the poet, essayist and fathe of one of the all-time greats on the U.S. Supreme Court, had such a good meal in Baltimore he hailed the city as "the gastronomic metropolis of the Union."

Those, of course, were the days when gluttony still reigned supreme in this city and diamond-back terrapin were not only plentiful but regularly exercised in the brick courtyard of Barnum's Hotel before being fricasseed for appreciative customers.

Baltimore cuisine has experienced occasional trials and tribulations since those glorious times. But in recent years, despite hard economic times, the news has usually been good.

The quality and variety of restaurants have much improved from the late 1960s, and a number of local chefs have become veritable celebrities. Nancy Longo, of Pierpoint's, and Benny Gordon, of 2110, are just two of them.

Both also happen to be graduates of the Baltimore International Culinary College, a 20-year-old institution which started as part of the Community College of Baltimore. Since 1978, the school has operated as a private, non-profit, two-year college with campuses here and near Dublin, Ireland.

The restaurant, lodgings and hospitality industry has grown dramatically in recent years. Even during the recession, it has experienced a labor shortage in such areas as professional cooking, baking and pastry preparation.

Those, along with inn-keeping, happen to be the very fields that the Baltimore International Culinary College teaches in its classrooms and facilities that are scattered through a number of buildings downtown. The college is now renovating an old school at Pratt Street and Central Avenue in Little Italy so that it can cope with future demands. Its new accommodations will help ensure that the college's influence in the wider community will continue to increase in the years ahead.

The college's graduates are much sought after by hospitality industry giants, and its new cooking demonstration theater enables it to bring famous guest chefs to Baltimore. Mini-courses conducted in that facility -- which was opened in June -- are also open to the general public.

Terrapin may be difficult to come by, but good cooking is well and alive in Baltimore!

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