- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Nicholls State University’s culinary program is getting warmed up in its new building.

The John Folse Culinary Institute started moving into the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building on May 20 and Randy Cheramie, the institute’s executive director, says the move is 80 percent complete.

“We don’t know how to act, we’re so excited. We’re in the building as we speak,” Cheramie said.

The building on eight acres near Louisiana Highway 1 and Bowie Road in Thibodaux includes four teaching kitchens, a demonstration room, food-storage facilities and a bistro to give students real-life experience. Cheramie says construction was completed in mid-May.

The Daily Comet reports (http://bit.ly/1KJNXji ) Nicholls President Bruce Murphy has targeted the program for expansion and hopes to double the enrollment within two years.

Two kitchens remain at Gouaux Hall, where the institute was located for years and where two summer classes will likely begin their sessions. The kitchens will be moved to the new building by the fall semester, Cheramie said. A grand opening is set for Aug. 20.

Cheramie said some kinks in the refrigeration are still being worked out but should be fixed soon.

Construction began in September 2013 and was originally scheduled to be completed by December. There were multiple delays, some related to the weather.

For the last several years, the institute had been split among two buildings: the 9,000-square-foot Gouaux Hall and the restaurant at the Carmel Inn and Suites in Thibodaux.

“We’re excited to be under one roof again,” Cheramie said.

The program began accepting students in 1996 and has an enrollment of more than 300.

The 12,000 square feet of teaching space will be separated into three kitchens for select skills and one for general cooking. Each will have room for 16 students.

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Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com

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