It was the Carnegie Library, now SUNY Broome culinary students are reviving local landmark

Tom Passmore
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

SUNY Broome Community College's Culinary and Event Center combines the charm of the former Carnegie Library with modern technology to deliver a state-of-the-art facilities for its students.

Almost every room in the facility includes a subtle nod to the past life of the building, including the original 1903 time capsule in the main event space, the original library floor and stairs in the student lounge area, the original library safe in the drinking lab and original beams of the library in the demonstration kitchens.

In 1903, Andrew Carnegie donated $75,000 to establish the free public library on Exchange Street in Binghamton. The library moved to its current location on Court Street in 2000.

Pictured is the location of the Broome County Culinary School and Event Center.

"This facility is such an amazing opportunity to showcase the old and the new and the revitalization that's happening in Binghamton," said Michael Stamets, associate dean of hospitality and of the Culinary Event Center. "To be able to show our students where we came from, from 1903 to now, it's just an amazing aspect of what we have here at SUNY Broome."

The $21.5 million project broke ground in 2016, but was delayed due to funding issues and changes to tax codes which led to a number of roadblocks. The school finally held a grand opening ceremony in October. 

Inside SUNY Broome culinary school

The Culinary School and Event Center just wrapped its first semester. During that time, students attended classes in the facility that offers chocolate making and live cooking demonstrations..

Students at the Culinary School and Event Center can pursue majors including hospitality management, events management and culinary arts.

The school is one of only two SUNY programs to offer chocolate making courses. Students learn the process from the beginning, from raw cocoa beans from Colombia to a smooth, creamy chocolate bar, all the way through fermentation, drying, roasting, nib grinding, refining, conching, and tempering.

A snapshot of the professional development kitchen where chocolate is made at the Broome County Culinary Arts School and Event Center.

The school's kitchens are stocked with induction burners, full range stoves, deep fryers, blast freezers and other amenities for students to use while making a wide array of dishes.

An optional hybrid learning model at the school called HyFlex is an instructional approach that combines face-to-face and online learning. Each class session and learning activity is offered in-person, as well as online with synchronous and asynchronous options.

"I think HyFlex is really the future of education," Stamets said. "The opportunity to meet online and in person or strictly online. We have to meet students where their expectations are."

The demonstration kitchen at the Broome County Culinary Arts School and Event Center.

The demonstration kitchen on the campus as well as other rooms have HyFlex technology to take advantage of the program.

A legacy of learning, community

While SUNY Broome's culinary school has taken the place of a former community resource, the facility will continue to offer programs for members of the public.

Local residents will have the opportunity to take a chocolate making class, and some parts of the school will be made available as rental space to reserve online through the school's website. The main event center can be rented out and holds up to 121 people.

"That was a big part of the plan," Stamets said. "It's an amazing thing to have the community here. We have a lot of people coming through here. Workforce development allows community members to come through."

Follow Tom Passmore on Twitter @TheLeaderPass