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College feeds local economy with unveiling of new culinary research kitchen

November 7, 2019

Manitoba’s vital agriculture and food industry is getting another boost with today’s grand opening of Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen.

The new research facility brings food science, culinary arts and industry together on the eleventh floor of RRC’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. The kitchen supports industry growth through new product development and by providing culinary students with food science skills required by this crucial economic sector.

“The Prairie Research Kitchen supports the growth of our ever-important agriculture and food industry, and helps build on Manitoba’s protein advantage, which is one of our strategic priorities,” says Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler (shown above, at right, with interim RRC President Darin Brecht).

“The Province of Manitoba is pleased to have provided $1 million from Research Manitoba towards the construction of the research kitchen, as culinary research is an area of tremendous opportunity. It’s exciting to see the College’s research chefs put their skills and expertise to work creating food products that are not only good for our health, but are also good for Manitoba’s economy.”

Culinary instructor plating food, Prairie Research Kitchen

Food and feed processing is the largest manufacturing sub-industry in Manitoba, accounting for 26 per cent of manufacturing sales in 2018. Many of the companies working in this area are SMEs, and this is where the Prairie Research Kitchen comes in — working directly with small and medium-sized operations to help bring new ideas and products to life.

“The Culinary Research team at Red River College has been with me from the start,” says Hailey Jefferies, president of Prairie Fava and recent winner of Start Up of the Year at the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Annual Business Awards.

“It has been invaluable to brainstorm with the Culinary Research team and quickly test some of the ideas. This has helped shape my business and our direction. We continue to work with the Prairie Research Kitchen and encourage other companies to engage this new resource.”

The Prairie Research Kitchen is the College’s third federally funded Technology Access Centre (the others are in aerospace and manufacturing and building efficiency technology). RRC is now the only college outside of Quebec with three TACs, which speaks to how rapidly its work with industry has grown in just 15 years, when applied research first began at the College.

“Our TACs are unique in that they provide a gateway for industry into the College,” says Brecht. “And that’s important because we have industry expertise and experience, research and development capacity, leading-edge equipment and lab space — and an eager workforce of students and instructors — all under one roof. It would be difficult for a company — particularly a small one, like many in Manitoba are — to replicate this cluster of resources on their own.”

Engaging in applied research and working with industry is one of the College’s key priorities under its Strategic Plan (2016-2021). The College’s TACs receive operating funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC).