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April 19, 2024

Culinary School at MDCC

Longtime chef David Crews leads program

By Mark H. Stowers

The Bolivar Bullet

For nearly two decades, students across the Delta got their culinary education in Greenwood at Mississippi Delta Community College’s Culinary School. Culinary Arts Instructor Chef David Crews has been with the program for 15 of the 16 years of its existence. This past spring it was announced that the MDCC Culinary School is making the move a bit west on Highway 82 – to Greenville. The Greenville Higher Education Center (GHEC) will be the new kitchen for Crews replete with all the commercial tools and teaching space a chef could dream of. The move actually began a few years ago but COVID and supply chain issues made it a “low and slow” transition. 

“The Greenwood Center is moving and we were renting a building forever. I was one of the catalysts of ‘if we move the Greenwood Center what will we do with culinary?’” he said. “And the decision was made we would invest in a building we already owned and have the ability to build something awesome.”

Crews noted that the process started right after COVID and “with all the delays in shipping and delays in getting product from everything from electrical wiring to venta-hoods and the lead time with stoves and such. We thought we could do it last but we saw it would be 2023.”

Chef Crews was asked to design the culinary teaching space. A task he didn’t take lightly and enjoyed. 

“I sat down and went through about 15 options in my head and spent countless hours on it. And it is set up exactly like my dream kitchen,” he said. 

The new space is 2,500-square feet with four different, dedicated areas.

“When you walk into the entryway, there will be a formal dining room and it will be set up like a restaurant,” he said. “Behind that will be a dedicated lecture hall. In the past, my lecture hall and lab were the same thing making it difficult to do two things at one time. Then we have four individual training centers set up for the students.”

The GHEC Culinary School will have training equipment for freshman to use but sophomores will move into cooking on commercial equipment.

“There is a dedicated dishwashing area. We have a shipping and receiving area that has a dedicated walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer. It is my dream come true,” Chef Crews said. 

Classes are set to start in late August and there will be 12 freshmen and 12 sophomores in class rotation. Crews is excited to come to a new Delta area and give back.

“Going into a new town, you’re going to have the ability to better the cuisine in that town,” Crews said. “We were in Greenwood for 16 years and every time I went out to eat, there was a student of mine working there. One of the cool things about coming into Greenville is the ability to elevate the food scene they have and give restauranteurs the opportunity to have new employees,” he said. 

For more information regarding MDCC and the Culinary Arts programs and classes, go to MSDelta.edu click on programs.