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The dust has settled on Yavapai College Sedona Center’s renovation: But for sealant on the atrium’s concrete floor, the facility is ready to host students.

In February, Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus Executive Dean James Perey predicted that the Sedona Center — then under renovation construction — would be completed by August, just in time for the fall semester.


The updates to the building include two state-of-theart kitchens, expanded classrooms, an enclosed atrium and a new orientation for entry. The kitchens, the likely highlight of any tour, house the new Culinary Arts Fundamentals certificate program, a oneyear curriculum of practical coursework that Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus Associate Dean Barb Waak hopes will produce “a pool of dependable, industrycertified people” intent on culinary careers in Sedona, Cottonwood and Camp Verde.

The preliminary indications are good for the culinary program: Five weeks before the semester is set to start, the program’s courses are full. Meanwhile, the other two certificate programs newly housed in the Sedona Center — the Hotel Management and Hospitality certificate and the Restaurant Management and Hospitality certificate — are still seeking students.

Part of the reason for open spots, Waak said, is that people tend to think of culinary and hospitality management as virtually interchangeable.

The reality, however, is that managing a restaurant or hotel requires different, albeit complementary, skill sets.

“A certificate in restaurant management is not the same as one in culinary,” Waak said, adding that the tourism industry is built upon individuals with solid leadership skills and the know-how to see businesses managed properly: A restaurant may have the world’s best bartender, but without someone managing the operation that supports the bartender, the restaurant will fail.

Charlie Mormino, a new adjunct faculty member in the Hospitality Management certificates programs, has three decades of experience in the hospitality industry.

Prior to accepting a position with the college, he made a living consulting for restaurants, bars and nightclubs, helping them increase efficiency and leadership potential.

A stickler for practical knowledge — knowing how to deal with stress in real time while retaining knowledge and skills — Mormino has made a career out of testing restaurant and hotel professionals.

Once, he set up tables incorrectly and made wait staff pass by and catalog the mistakes. Another time, he made bartenders mix five drinks in two minutes while other employees distracted them.

“[The hospitality program] has got enormous potential,” Mormino said, calling hospitality management and culinary programs a “critical” match for a tourism-driven region. “Why wouldn’t we train and try to hold onto people here, in local businesses? We can only mutually benefit each other.”

According to Mormino, the college is actively engaged in the process of partnering with local restaurants and hotels — not only to find potential students for the hospitality and culinary courses, but to place students for practicum courses, wherein students receive hands-on training in a professional hospitality setting, surrounded by employees.

The benefit for students is clear, according to Waak, and businesses won’t miss out, either: “The benefit for them is well-trained employees.”

Despite her interest in providing certificates and training for aspiring industry professionals, Waak emphasized the college’s commitment to making educational opportunities available to the larger community.

All coursework, therefore, is open to the public, for personal development and enjoyment.

For more information, visit yc.edu or call admissions at 634-6520. Hospitality businesses interested in partnering with the college may contact Waak at 634-6560.

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