The Sun Valley Culinary Institute has announced it will hold off on launching the organization’s Professional Culinary School, which was scheduled to open this fall, postposing to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The institute still plans to offer cooking classes and demonstrations including “French Cooking Made Easy,” “Cooking with Grains” and more for locals and tourists this summer and fall.
“We are disappointed to have to make this decision,” Institute Board Chair Mindy Meads said a statement on Thursday.
“However, for the safety of our students and the long-term viability of the school, the delay of this specific program was necessary.”
The announcement goes on to say the Institute’s board and staff are looking for ways to support the community during this difficult time, including looking at additional opportunities to provide workforce training and culinary bootcamps for local restaurants. The building on Main Street in Ketchum will also remain available to be rented for events.
More broadly, around 90 restaurants county-wide are closed, with roughly 50 percent of them offering takeout options through the pandemic, Sun Valley Economic Development reported to the city of Ketchum. Even prior to the pandemic, though, restaurants were already struggling to hire and retain staff.
According to the SVED report, Scott Mason, owner of the Mason Family Restaurants, including Enoteca and Ketchum Grill, the restaurants experienced their worst summer ever in terms of back and front of house staffing hiring and retention. In addition, SVED reported that the restaurants “desperately need access to trained culinary staff.”
Another Ketchum restaurant, Sawtooth Brewery, said they had to close their Ketchum pub several days during the lunch hours last summer due to lack of staff.