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The Sun Valley Culinary Institute will be installed in a historic building on Main Street in Ketchum. The building, shown here during a tour on Monday, previously housed the Cornerstone Bar & Grill.

Risotto-making classes, demonstrations by celebrity chefs and a dozen talented culinary students—these are all things one can expect to find at the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, on track to open in Ketchum this winter.

The site at 211 Main St., also known as the “Greenhow and Rumsey building” or the former Cornerstone Bar & Grill, is the second-oldest building in town, according to Sun Valley Economic Development Executive Director Harry Griffith, and it’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

While exterior windows can’t be changed due to the designation, significant interior renovations are underway. The kitchen will be enclosed in glass to allow the public to watch students at work, Griffith said, and a new bar countertop will be installed for the institute’s two full-time instructors to use for demonstrations. The upstairs loft will also be converted into a bakery.

“We’ll be relying on a combination of brick, wood, distressed metal and stainless steel to give the space a that light-industrial commercial feel,” Griffith said at a Monday open house.

Via a federally certified apprenticeship program, the institute will provide training to 12 up-and-coming culinary students, several of those on scholarship. Griffith said he’s confident that the institute’s dean of curriculum, award-winning chef Chris Koetke, from Chicago, has a strong understanding of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pedagogical training.

“In the yearlong technical certification program, students will arrive in October and go through a two-month intensive training, six hours a day,” he said. “They’ll then get field experience at local restaurants and with the Sun Valley Company, which will be structured as paid internships. At the end of the year, they’d have credits they could apply to other culinary programs in Idaho.”

Griffith said a 2-4-2-4 pattern—two months intensive study, four months of on-the-job experience—will work well with the valley’s seasonality and slack periods.

“The student schedule gives extra hands and skill to the restaurant community, which is dying for talent,” he said.

Cooking classes for culinary enthusiasts should accommodate between 15 and 20 people and come in a variety of flavors—some hands-on, using the professional kitchen and bakery just like students would, and others more observational. In a live cooking show, cameras will be hooked up to TVs to broadcast play-by-plays for attendees.

Griffith said institutional events tied to the Trailing of the Sheep and Wagon Days festivals are expected to usher in more tourists, and an emphasis on local food and local partnerships will benefit those near the valley. He also anticipates the space will be a popular venue for local businesses to rent out.

“We’re going to say, ‘Here’s the key, you can bring in your own caterers and activities and liquor licenses,” he said. “From an events standpoint, it’s very important we leverage the space, which will have configurable chairs and tables.”

Open houses and tours of the space will be held every Monday at 3 p.m. To RSVP, call Karl Uri at 208-309-2700.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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