International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach Builds Momentum
$15 million facility attracts top-flight chef, boasts 100 percent placement rate
When Horry Georgetown Technical College opened its $15 million International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach (ICI) last fall, its leadership hoped to change the food business and how it operates along the Carolina coast with a world-class culinary education experience for students, locals and visitors.
Now in its second semester, the school is already on its way to reaching this lofty goal. The Grand Strand campus’ sophisticated facilities have attracted new talent at the faculty level, and its highly trained graduates are in great demand by food service establishments around the country.
In March, ICI will welcome Nathan Hashmonay, an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef, to its team. Hashmonay, formerly on faculty at the Art Institutes of Tampa and Charlotte, will teach ICI’s restaurant capstone course, designed as a final review and opportunity for students to build confidence as a chef in a restaurant service setting.
Students will gain great value from Hashmonay’s extensive experience in Mediterranean and French cuisine, according to ICI Executive Director Joseph Bonaparte. Hashmonay was motivated by an opportunity to join the new wave of culinary education.
“Nathan embodies the philosophy we have cultivated at ICI and our commitment to cook in healthier ways using local, fresh ingredients,” said Bonaparte. “Our students will learn a great deal about today’s professional kitchen under his tutelage.”
The national restaurant community has taken notice, too. After its first semester in the new facility, ICI placed 100 percent of its graduates in industry-related positions. ICI-trained students are working in the growing dining scene of Myrtle Beach, across the South, and with top chefs in New York City, including graduate Luke Dowdy, who is Executive Sous Chef for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery & Café.
“I work with one of the best chefs in the world, and that’s a direct result of my studies at ICI,” said Dowdy. “The school’s philosophy of teaching – including hands-on training in the classical techniques – prepared me for the rigor and pace of a world-renowned kitchen in one of the busiest cities in the world.”
Students can earn an associate degree in programs including Baking and Pastry Arts, Kitchen and Food Preparation Techniques, Culinary Arts Technology or Professional Cooking for about $10,000, much less than the national average. Currently, the school is preparing 135 students to work in top-tier kitchens, many of which are popping up in the Myrtle Beach area. The Grand Strand area alone houses 2,400 restaurants that employ 23,000 people. Restaurant and food service jobs make up 12 percent of the total South Carolina economy.
“Our hope is to train students who might go off and work all over the world, but will come back to Myrtle Beach in a few years to cultivate a locally based, high-quality, chef-driven food scene,” said Bonaparte.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean agrees with Bonaparte and actively promotes ICI as one of many reasons to visit the Myrtle Beach area.
“The Culinary Institute adds to the tourist experience, and its students will keep the local dining scene vibrant and new,” said Dean. “The partnership among Horry Georgetown, the state of South Carolina and the Myrtle Beach area will continue to reap many benefits for area tourists, citizens and Horry students.”
The International Culinary Institute at Horry Georgetown Technical College opened a new $15 million building in Myrtle Beach last fall. About 140 students are enrolled in associate degree and certificate programs. Internships and scholarships are available for students who qualify.