Hampton cooking school growing

Apprentice program and dining hours are expanding

By Kary McCafferty

Hampton Union, November 1, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Ron Boucher
Ron Boucher opened the Chez Boucher Culinary Training Center in February 2003. [Kary McCafferty photo]

HAMPTON — The French-American cuisine Chez Boucher Culinary Arts Training Center is starting an apprenticeship program through the American Culinary Federation with the addition of extra dining room hours and a new lounge called Savory Square Bistro taking the place of the center's Gourmet Shoppe.

In the past, the center's 16-week professional culinary arts training program was followed by a two-month externship, culminating in a certificate from the Chez Boucher school, endorsed by the ACF.

The new apprenticeship program through the ACF requires 1,000 hours of training in a professional culinary setting. Instead of the two-month externship, participants will complete a paid six-month stint at the school's dining room and new lounge. Time spent training will include learning hot and cold prep cooking and line cooking. Students will become a certified through the ACF.

Ron Boucher owns the training center, which opened in February 2003. He said the lounge needed to take the shop's place in order to accommodate the apprenticeship program's requirements. The dining room, currently opened Friday nights, will serve dinner four nights a week and Sunday brunch. Savory Square Bistro will feature a 13-seat bar with three high-top tables, a gas fireplace and a couple of televisions.

"I just want to see this develop, to really prosper," Boucher said. "With combining the professional training program with the apprenticeship, I think it could become a good model for other schools going forward." He added that all food served is made entirely from scratch, with students doing all of the smoking and curing.

The next round of the professional training program begins Jan. 12, with the hopes that the bistro will open by Jan. 15. For the remainder of the year, the dining room will be open for dinner on Friday nights, with the extension of hours also beginning in January.

A sample menu for the new Savory Square Bistro includes wild mushroom risotto, burgers, steamed mussels, pork tenderloin medallions and baked stuffed shrimp. Entrees offer grilled chicken portobello, vegetable fettuccine, salmon and hanger steak.

Those interested in the professional training program can find the application on the center's Web site: www.chezboucher.com. Six students will be accepted every six months for the apprenticeship portion of the curriculum, Boucher said.