News

11 February 2020

New Craft Chocolate Classes Will Be Sweet Addition to Mill Artisan District

Photo of Vanessa Traver in chef's uniform cutting cake at celebration with College President and others near tableOfficials from SUNY Schenectady and Schenectady County celebrated a new collaboration between the College and the Mill Artisan District today. Students in the Culinary Arts program will be able to take classes to make chocolate from scratch, part of the “bean to bar” craft chocolate movement. The College recently signed a lease to occupy almost 3,000 square feet of space at the Mill Artisan District, a block away from the main campus. Construction is scheduled to take place this spring/summer, with the goal of offering classes for the Fall 2020 semester. (Pictured are JT Pollard, Developer and Architect; Dr. Steady Moono, College President; Vanessa Traver, Instructor in the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism; Honorable Angelo Santabarbara, New York State Assembly; Dr. David Brough, Dean of the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism; and Ray Gillen, Chairman, Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority.) More photos.

College and County officials celebrated the new course offerings at Frog Alley Brewing with food prepared and served by faculty and students in the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism, through the College’s Food Truck.

The College has engaged a consultant to help design architectural plans to create a culinary classroom and lab space for chocolate, pastry, and baking instruction. 

“This is going to be a special space for us as we become part of the Mill Artisan District,” said Dr. Steady Moono, College President. “Not only will we be offering students the opportunity to discover the art of making high-quality chocolate, a new avenue for our Culinary Arts program; we will also be contributing further to the spirit of downtown Schenectady’s renaissance as students and faculty work and learn inside the new space at this exciting downtown development.”

Chef Vanessa Traver, who has a passion for the art of craft chocolate and recently studied the growing movement at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, is looking forward to teaching chocolate and confection courses in the new space. “What makes this so special is that students will learn the process from bean to bar because they will be making the chocolate from scratch,” she explained. “SUNY Schenectady is going to be a real part of the craft chocolate movement starting with the cocoa bean.”

Students will develop their skills at flavoring chocolate through various flavor profiles incorporating sea salt and nuts in dark, white, and milk chocolate. They will utilize equipment including a roaster, a refiner to break down cocoa beans, and a winnower that separates the cocoa nib from the shell.

Photo of chocolate on tableAnn Fleming Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees, noted that the College’s expansion at the Mill Artisan District is another example of how the institution engages the community and continues to offer a diverse array of new courses and programs for students. “We are pleased to further link the College to downtown Schenectady and offer students a new and exciting choice in the Culinary Arts field at the same time,” she said. “We serve our community in a myriad of ways and offering craft chocolate courses further showcases the excellent work of our faculty and staff.”

“SUNY Schenectady’s new craft chocolate classes pair perfectly with the Mill Artisan District,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “This exciting partnership will help keep the College at the forefront of New York’s culinary arts programs while expanding its downtown footprint and attracting even more students and visitors to the County.”

The Mill Artisan District is a $35 million mixed-use development located on lower State Street in downtown Schenectady. The Mill project features the Frog Alley Brewery, a taproom, apartments, multiple retail stores including Bountiful Bread, the new chocolate program, and the Jahnel Group, a fast growing software company. Future plans include SUNY Schenectady’s Craft Brewing program and a distillery. 

“Hosting SUNY Schenectady’s new chocolate program is an honor for our team,” said JT Pollard, developer and owner of the project. “It is a great fit with the goal of showcasing food and beverage artisans at work making and selling their freshly made products in a fun community gathering space.” 

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