$20 million Culinary Arts Center opens

Prince George’s County, Maryland, is now home to the region’s hottest restaurant kitchen. But diners be warned: There’s no menu, just a course catalog.

After three years of planning, one year of construction and a $20 million investment from Prince George’s County, the Culinary Arts Center at Prince George’s Community College is open.

The 21,351-square-foot facility includes three instructional restaurant-scale kitchens, classroom space and event space. There’s also a community kitchen where home cooks can sharpen their knives and their roasting, baking and wine-pairing skills.

The 60-year-old academic institution launched its culinary arts program about a decade ago, but Prince George’s Community College President Charlene Dukes said with the area’s booming food and hospitality industry, it was time to take it to the next level.

“The interest in food and the culinary arts has grown tremendously … and we’re approached on numerous occasions about our students serving internships and also being hired,” Dukes said.

According to data from the National Restaurant Association, Maryland’s restaurant industry is a $12.1 billion business. There are currently 246,200 restaurant and food service jobs in the state, and by 2028, that number is expected to grow by about 9 percent. Close by, D.C. brings in $3.8 billion a year in restaurant sales and boasts 68,900 restaurant and food service jobs.

“It really is about giving the students the opportunity to work in the industry, to take what they’re learning in an academic setting and environment and put that to practice in the industry.”