NIC Culinary Arts expanded

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Jenny Pettit uses the skills she learned at North Idaho College as a chef at St. Vincent de Paul’s Father Bill’s Kitchen in Coeur d’Alene. Pettit plans to return to NIC in the fall to learn even more under the tutelage of NIC Culinary Arts Instructor Hillary Faeta-Ginepra. Photo by TOM GREENE/North Idaho College

There’s a deep connection between wellness and good food.

At least, that’s what Hillary Faeta-Ginepra believes — and it’s a philosophy that she passes on to her students in the Culinary Arts program at North Idaho College.

“I work hard to introduce the students to what that means. They’re the ones who are going to be shaping the industry,” she said. “Quality is extremely important.”

To that end, the Culinary Arts program has added a second year option to its technical certificate — one that will give students an even fuller understanding of the industry.

While the program’s first year focuses on cooking, the second introduces advanced techniques, with an emphasis on the business side. Students will learn about budgeting and payroll, purchasing and cost control, nutrition and marketing, and more.

“The focus is on preparing them to be entrepreneurs and run a business,” Faeta-Ginepra said.

However, the program isn’t only for students who are just getting started in the industry. Students with more experience or who are already working in the culinary field can gain the skills needed to advance their careers.

“My hope is that they would be able to walk into a sous chef or higher-level management position, not just a line position where they’re just cooking,” Faeta-Ginepra said. “They could go anywhere with it.”

That’s precisely what current student Jenny Pettit hopes to do. For her, cooking has always been therapeutic, a way to make others happy — and now she’s turning it into a career.

A disabled mother of two, Pettit enrolled in the Culinary Arts program in order to take her lifelong passion for cooking to the next level. She plans to return in the fall to take the second year, and she said she looks forward to continuing her education at NIC.

“I’m more of a rounded cook now,” she said. “I can do more than just savory cooking. I can do baking and sweets, and run the front of the house, not just cook on the line.”

Students like Pettit gain practical experience in running a commercial kitchen from a unique feature of NIC’s Culinary Arts program: Emery’s Restaurant and NICularts Deli, which are on-campus eateries staffed by Culinary Arts students. Beyond preparing meals, students learn about customer service, food and beverage pairing and more.

In their second year, students will gain even more valuable experience, Faeta-Ginepra said.

“That practical experience really makes a difference,” she said. “Second-year students will still work in the restaurant, but they’ll take it over in terms of menu planning, purchasing and putting in procedures for cost control.”

Because Coeur d’Alene is a tourism hotspot, the demand for skilled culinarians is high. Faeta-Ginepra said there aren’t enough professionals to fill those jobs. Her goal is to prepare students to do just that.

“Everyone’s hurting for help,” she said. “We’re hoping to fill that need within the community. We’re looking for people who are going to make a difference and have those more elevated skills and take advantage of these opportunities.”

Apply now at or, for more information, call NIC’s technical advising office at 208-769-3448.

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This content was provided by North Idaho College.

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