College off-and-cookin’ in new Vail Valley kitchen |

College off-and-cookin’ in new Vail Valley kitchen

Kelly Brinkerhoff
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail Valley chef Rick Kangas, right, instructs a yeast and quick breads class Wednesday in Colorado Mountain College's new kitchen at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Aspiring chefs can now add to the list of reasons they might move to Colorado’s Vail Valley – to enroll in the Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute at the Vail-Eagle Valley campus in Edwards. A state-of-the-art teaching kitchen opened at nearby Battle Mountain High School this fall.

Todd Rymer, executive chef and director of culinary education at the culinary institute, has worked for several years in partnership with the college and Eagle County School District to raise funds for the kitchen. Their efforts raised $325,000, with Beaver Creek Resorts and the Vail Valley Wine Auction donating a significant portion of the funds.

“The new teaching kitchen will strengthen CMC’s Culinary Institute degree program, provide non-credit cooking classes for the community and train students at Battle Mountain High School who are in the ProStart program, which allows students to develop professional cooking skills while in high school,” Rymer said.

Since it started 10 years ago, the culinary program has allowed students to work with chefs from the Vail Valley and those visiting for the area’s various culinary festivals.

“Our culinary program is unique in that it’s one of a dozen culinary programs in the U.S. that offers an associates of applied Science degree in three years that includes an apprenticeship certified by the American Culinary Federation,” says Rymer. “CMC students graduate ready to work as a qualified sous chef.”

The 1,700-square-foot kitchen is designed in an “island style” in the European tradition, as opposed to most U.S. commercial kitchens, which have a cooking line on one bank. One half of the room is for Eagle County’s family and consumer studies program, with a complete array of cooking stations.

The other half of the kitchen is the commercial side of the kitchen, which has an audio-visual system and mirror so that students can view cooking methods up close and classes can be taped for later viewing.

Other highlights of the kitchen are refrigerated work tables, a combi oven and a thermal circulator. Rymer says he is particularly excited about the thermal circulator.

“It’s a vacuum pack cooking technique that gives ultimate control over the internal and external temperature of food during the cooking process,” says Rymer. “The vacuum pack bag containing the food is put in water and cooks uniformly at a certain temperature.

Even though the kitchen was built to teach 15 to 17 students, it can hold 50 to 60 people for events and demonstrations.

Another addition to the culinary program is the vegetable and herb garden. A tenth of an acre next to the building in Edwards will provide culinary students with fresh produce and herbs.

Rymer says he tries to balance his cooking program with old-world, authentic cooking techniques.

“I’m always looking for ways to teach students tried-and-true, centuries old cooking and baking technique alongside the newest cooking technology – it’s important to have an appreciation for both methods,” he said.

To celebrate the opening of the new kitchen, a ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 12. The ribbon cutting ceremony also will feature a cooking demonstration.

To find out more about Colorado Mountain College’s Culinary Institute, visit

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