BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- The culinary program at Northwest Arkansas Community College is expanding its curriculum and moving into a new building.
Program director Glenn Mack said it's all thanks to $15 million worth of grants from the Walton Foundation. He said the food industry in Northwesy Arkansas is booming.
"We've seen the tourism grow, there's an increased demand for the tourist amenities, and food and entertainment is right on the top of the list," Mack said.
He said they're adding food entrepreneurship and food production to the curriculum, as well as artisinal foods and beverage management.
Mack said the culinary arts and hospitality program is moving to a new building on SE 8th Street in Bentonville starting in the fall of 2016.
"We have one kitchen now in our existing facility so to go to five kitchens plus six classrooms it's going to be a tremendous space," Mack said.
Matthew McClure is the executive chef at the Hive restaurant in the 21C hotel. He said he has several employees that are graduates of the program.
"I had to leave Arkansas and I lived in Boston for eight years and that's where I had to go to learn how to cook, and to come back and be a part of something like this is kind of amazing, where people like me these days aren't going to need to leave the state to get great restaurant experience," McClure said.
Mack said they plan to expand the amount of students in the program from 125 to 300 over the next few years.
"It should be great for the local restaurants to have that sort of talent pool that's required," McClure said.
Mack said in addition to the classrooms and kitchen space being housed in the new building, they're also hoping to add a restaurant, a bakery and a butcher shop.