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Central Carolina Culinary Institute continues to grow

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Click to enlarge,  Chef Gregg Hamm is executive director of the Central Carolina Community College's Culinary Institute. To learn more about the Central Carolina Culinary Institute, contact Chef Gregg Hamm at 919-545-8070, e-mail him at , or visit  for further information.

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Chef Gregg Hamm is executive director of the Central Carolina Community College's Culinary Institute. ... (more)

12.26.2014College & CommunityCollege GeneralStudents/Graduates

SANFORD - Susan Seawell Sidden says she grew up in her grandmother's kitchen, watching her make biscuits, cakes, and fried chicken. It was her grandmother who taught her how to fix an over-easy egg.

Sidden, of Sanford, was a medical office manager for 25 years before she decided to attend classes at the Central Carolina Culinary Institute, a program of Central Carolina Community College.

Her class experience led to her becoming a private chef for several families and a chef/kitchen manager for a girls' academy.

"I have been blessed to have been able to participate in the CCCC culinary program. Having a new career that I totally love is fantastic," said Sidden. "My instructors cared about what we learned and made sure what we did were done the right way."

Central Carolina Community College's Culinary Institute includes all aspects of the Culinary & Hospitality Arts programs, which include a Culinary Arts curriculum degree (Associate in Applied Science) and the Natural Chef continuing education program. It's even possible for area high schools students to begin their culinary coursework through the Career and College Promise program.

Central Carolina's growing culinary program currently is held on its Lee County Campus in Sanford and its Chatham County Campus in Pittsboro, with the program soon to expand to Harnett County at what will be the Dunn Center of the college.

Chef Gregg Hamm, Executive Director of the CCCC Culinary Institute, says there are plenty of jobs in the food service and hospitality industry. "It's such a broad spectrum outside of just being in the kitchen, from dieticians to nutritionists to restaurant managers to resort management."

The Institute has continued to grow since its beginning in 2011. "We have room, but we have room because we're growing and we're expanding before we reach our capacity," said Hamm, who says these programs allow him to continually grow his experience as a chef and help to inspire those who share the same goals and dreams.

Students who complete the CCCC Culinary Institute will be able to:

  • Master the skills needed to operate a safe and sanitary food service facility.
  • Design and price a culinary menu.
  • Apply the standard and fundamental cooking methods of the culinary arts industry.
  • Demonstrate and execute an off-site catered meal.
  • Master the skills needed to be successful in the culinary industry.
  • Identify and evaluate appropriate and necessary industry standards in culinary with a focus on healthy cooking.
  • Identify and evaluate industry trends in culinary with a focus on farm-to-table cuisine.
  • Demonstrate the general skills required for success in the culinary profession.
  • Students get great first-hand experience through the Natural Chef Cafe on the Chatham County Campus and the Cougar Cafe on the Lee County Campus. The Natural Chef Cafe is open for lunch two days per week and for dinner on one day per week. The Cougar Cafe serves meals four days per week for CCCC's Lee Campus students, faculty and staff, and the public.

Hamm said the experience absolutely helps the students gain what they need as they learn the ability to make decisions in the kitchen. "What we teach them in a textbook, we're backing up by giving them that hands-on experience and reinforcing it," he said. "So when they go into a work environment, they have quick decision making skills and know how to move throughout the kitchen, even when a challenge comes about."

Janet Constantino, of Cary, is among the former students in the Central Carolina Culinary Institute's Natural Chef continuing education program. "It was such a broad experience and I learned so much about textures, flavors, and the challenge of cooking for others with food allergies," she said. "I enjoyed the class very much. I feel like a better cook with more knowledge and experience to share with others."

Constantino recalls her memories from the CCCC program. "Our service day in the kitchen gave me a whole new appreciation for those that are behind an oven serving guests their 'perfect' dish," she said.

Constantino noted that the program is an enriching experience for the casual stay-at-home mom or the person that wants to move into the professional field.

With the training and job experience, Central Carolina Culinary Institute graduates may advance to positions such as sous chef, executive chef, or food service manager. "The possibilities are endless," said Hamm. "The jobs are endless."

Students can be assured of being trained by an accredited faculty led by Hamm, who came to the college in 2011 after 11 years as a hospitality and culinary arts teacher at Lee County Senior High School. Hamm, who attended Johnson and Wales University, is owner of two restaurants -- Cafe 121 in Sanford and P.G. Werth's in Raleigh. The latter restaurant is named for an inspiring high school culinary arts teacher.

For those students who want training past the Associate degree, CCCC has an articulation agreement with Johnson and Wales University that allow students who seek to continue their education and achieve a higher culinary degree.

No doubt, more and more individuals are learning about the Central Carolina Culinary Institute. This summer, it is expected that several foreign students will attend the program.

To learn more about the Central Carolina Culinary Institute, contact Chef Gregg Hamm at 919-545-8070, e-mail him at, or visit for further information.