MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., April 27, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than 17 million visitors to the Myrtle Beach area are poised to have their palates refined by tastier, healthier food—and that's definitely news to most of them. Horry Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) is finishing construction on a new building to open this fall—a sleek new building, the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. The physical manifestation of HGTC's goal to help the South eat fresher and smarter, the Institute will change the food business and how it operates along the Carolina coast. HGTC's Culinary Arts program has trained local chefs for years, but the new institute will build an already fine program into a world-class culinary education experience for locals and visitors.

HGTC President Neyle Wilson said, "This 15 million dollar new building will not only allow an increase from 150 to 400 students served but will also enable us to increase the school's impact on the community. I want to see us help make the Myrtle Beach area into a prime food destination as well as being a golf and family fun paradise."

To transform his vision into reality, President Wilson brought in Chef Joseph Bonaparte as Executive Director. Bonaparte, a chef with experience and accolades in cooking, teaching, and curriculum, designed the building to be a vital tool in the plan.

The Institute's thoughtful, practical design underlines the commitment of the program to inspire culinary arts students to aspire to excellence in every aspect of the food preparation and presentation in a wide variety of venues. Students will learn how to deliver excellent customer service, find the freshest best local ingredients and combine ingredients with knowledge and a passion for food. Every aspect of the new Institute offers amenities that any chef or student could desire. In total, there will be six kitchens. Two of these will be hot food teaching kitchens. There will also be a bakeshop, a pastry shop, a demonstration kitchen, and a working restaurant kitchen. The school will also have a barbecue training center, greenhouse, herb gardens, climate-controlled meat curing chamber, and a chocolate/confection/pastry room. There will also be a small retail area. The demontration kitchen will provide a staging area for guest chefs to teach, cooking classes to the public, and will have broadcast capabilities for local television stations.

Even the design and flow of the interior have been planned to maximize concrete opportunities for learning and provide inspiration and offer symbolic representation of the school's role in advancing the cause of real food in the community at large and local restaurant scene. The wave design in the building's main interior hallway invites students to become a part of the sea of change in the way locals, tourists and all who hire HGTC graduates, cook, eat, view, source, and use food. Every classroom is "wired" so that close-ups of a teaching chef's demonstration can be broadcast and taped for repeated viewing. From combination ovens to rotary evaporation systems, from freeze-dry systems to sonic homogenizers, equipment in the Institute will be among the most sophisticated in the industry.

Chef Bonaparte is steeped in commitment to using local, fresh ingredients and the building's design allows for that as well. Bonaparte's educational credits include three conferences at Italy's Terra Madre, the home of the Slow Food movement. He earned a Master's in Italian Cooking Diploma from the Slow Food ItalCook Program in Jesi, Italy and is a Board Member of the Waccamaw Chapter of the Slow Food Movement in South Carolina. The movement encourages the use of fresh food in home and dining out. Chef Bonaparte already takes students on field trips to local farms and the new facility offers students the opportunity for hands-on seed-to-food experience with a garden and greenhouse, and will allow them to practice smoking and preserving their own meat products as well.

Key to successfully executing the plan that will bring this new building to full function was hiring a cadre of other chefs who share Bonaparte's passion for fresh, good food, well prepared. He has hired teaching staff whose personal culinary achievements are matched by their passion for passing on the excitement of creating wonderful, nutritious, delicious food experiences to students in a classroom environment. Chefs Geoffrey Blount and David Quintana are two of these new star performers already in place, teaching, and excited to exercise their skills in the new facility. They join Chefs Kathleen Hassett, Tom Mullally, Eric Wagner, Lindsey McInville, Gregory Ferguson and Sean Christensen.

Among his many achievements, Blount is an American ambassador for Callebaut Chocolate Company, has lead the US Team at the International Gelato Competition in Bologna, and was the American Culinary Federation 2012 Educator of the Year. Also a one-time part of the backstage for Illusionist David Copperfield, Blount now practices a very flavorful kind of magic in his baking, pastry and chocolate-making classes that has many students pronouncing his teaching as pivotal in the shaping or re-shaping their career paths.

Chef David Quintana has already transformed the Fowler dining room, raising this student operation from good to sublime. The proof of his ability to instill in students the ability to blend a passion for food with service to the public and adept handling of the business side of restaurant management, is evident on any visit to that dining room. Quintana looks forward to working with students in the varied venues of new building's restaurant-devoted space, which will include a custom cooking suite, wood burning hearth oven, wood burning grill, a chef's count and chef's table for specialty tasting menus, and an outdoor cooking and dining center.

Two members of Chef Blount's pastry class typify student reaction to all of this. Sophia Pinkus, a student graduating in 2016, said, "My passion has always been Tex-Mex food. I love the vibrant flavors of lime and cilantro, but since taking this course, I am also on fire for pastry." Pinkus has already been tapped for a career with Disney in Orlando.

Brittany Knox enrolled at HGTC planning to pursue one its other specialties—computers. When she took a bread making class from Chef Blount, she discovered that breads and pastries are her true love and changed her career choice. Knox said, "When I am through here (at HGTC) I want to get some (restaurant or bakery) experience working for someone else. Then, someday, I hope to open my own shop."

HGTC's emphasis on local, healthy food and the use of the new building's retail and teaching space will be advantageous for tourists and residents alike. The amphitheatre studio will provide new opportunities to teach community classes, perhaps even on local television, on topics such as nutrition and preparing fresh foods for the family table. In this way, the school hopes to increase local awareness of the benefits of healthy eating and positively influence the area's obesity and diabetes rates.

HGTC's restaurant, with the addition of a chef's table, and retail bakery are some of the other ways Chef Bonaparte hopes to offer students practical work opportunities while giving residents and tourists a literal taste of what is going on at the school. More graduates means HGTC will be able to send out larger numbers into local as well national and international restaurants, directly impacting the food scene while through the school's overall work with fresh foods and local restaurateurs they hope to raise the level of food served all over the Myrtle Beach area to make it a food destination. Chef Bonaparte said, "I have been involved in local food experiences in Texas and North Carolina and have seen the benefits to the individuals and to the area. Food tourism is huge." Increased numbers of tourists who come just for the food means a heartier economy.

The building, new curriculum, new philosophy and increased numbers of students available to work in area eateries— all of this will guide the HGTC Culinary Arts Department to a new level of professionalism that will greatly benefit the local residents and many tourists who will see Myrtle Beach as a wonderful food destination. The Institute is on Crabtree Lane on the HGTC Grand Strand Campus, one of three local campuses.

Culinary Arts was one of the signature programs established at the college. Founded in 1966, HGTC celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Today HGTC offers associate degree and job training programs in more than 80 fields.
Photos accompanying this release are available at:

Joseph Bonaparte- (713) 446-9970 or Mary Eaddy- (843) 349-5341