ANKENY, Iowa - A new, $5.4 million expansion at DMACC's Iowa Culinary Institute is more than just a flashy upgrade - it's an effort to raise the recognition of a school responsible for some of Des Moines' best eateries.
The institute, located at DMACC's Ankeny campus, brings 8,000-square-feet of new space - including an atrium, new classrooms, and offices. The program already boasts an impressive kitchen space for its 200 students, but with these new additions, staff say they hope people in Central Iowa will become more aware of the great things happening here.
"It's going to take us up to the next level, it gives us some exposure," said Robert Anderson, a chef and the program chair at the ICI. "You can see it from the road, and it's kind of just brought DMACC up in front of everything."
For the students, it's about shattering the stereotypes of what a "community college" can be.
"This place has put a lot of love into teaching. They aren't just here to teach, they're here to get to know their students," said a second-year student, Dutch Van Sumple. "All of these instructors, I can - not just teachers - after this, I'd be happy to count them as friends. They're great people, they're amazing to work under."
Anderson says about 90 percent of the institute's graduates choose to stay in Iowa. Some of the most popular eateries in Des Moines - like Zombie Burger and Fleming's Steakhouse - are a product of the ICI.