After years of delays, the $32 million New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) is finally breaking ground at the former Louisiana ArtWorks building. The NOCHI board and staff, Governor John Bel Edwards, and others will be on hand for the official groundbreaking this morning.
Designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple architecture firm, the school will include five dedicated teaching kitchens, a beverage lab for wine and spirits programs, a retail café space on the ground level, separate classroom and office spaces for NOCHI and Tulane University, and an event center on the fifth floor with its own showcase catering kitchen and terraces overlooking downtown New Orleans.
The institute will offer rigorous, hands-on post-secondary certificate programs in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts developed in conjunction with CIA Consulting. The space will also be open to the community and visitors with seminars and classes like Knife Skills 101 and New Orleans Cocktails.
The massive Louisiana Artworks building, with 93,000 square feet and five floors, was built by the Arts Council of New Orleans for about $25 million. It was never used as the art studio complex it was meant to be and closed in 2010.
In February 2014, Ti Martin and her board of heavyweights won a bid to turn the failed art building into a culinary institute for a cool $6.2 million. Originally, the group planned to open the doors in 2016, with parts opening as early as 2015.
By mid-2015, no work had begun on the massive project. By fall, the opening had been moved to 2017. After a few more delays, NOCHI secured the additional funding it needed to move forward with the project in 2017, with plans to open in early 2019 after a yearlong renovaton.
“This is what the New Orleans hospitality industry has always dreamt of,” Board Co-Chair Ti Adelaide Martin said in a press release. “NOCHI is where culinary and hospitality careers will begin, where business minds will be nourished, and where we’ll teach the New Orleans brand of hospitality and fun.”