Baker College of Port Huron Opens Culinary Institute of Michigan

Sep 19, 2013

Dedicated facility focuses on European-style cooking

Baker Facility
Dr. Connie Harrison, Baker College of Port Huron president, and John Wheeler, partner in JB Development Company and Orion II Construction, show off the new 23,000-square-foot Culinary Institute of Michigan. Wheeler led the Blue Water development project.
Baker Reception
Baker College of Port Huron culinary arts students and faculty provided creative and delectable appetizers for about 300 guests following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Baker’s Culinary Institute of Michigan.
Baker Recinella
Thomas Recinella, program director at The Culinary Institute of Michigan, has more than 30 years of experience in the food service industry owning, managing and/or serving as chef for many restaurants and clubs. Most recently, he was culinary arts director at State University of New York. Here he prepares hors d’oeuvres for guests following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Baker Recinella 2
Thomas Recinella, program director at Baker College of Port Huron’s Culinary Institute of Michigan.
Baker Student
Baker College of Port Huron student Matthew Biga, Fort Gratiot, Mich., is working towards an associate degree in culinary arts. Here he plates hors d’oeuvres that he created in one of the CIM’s seven kitchens for guests following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Baker Tour
Dan Kenny, Baker College of Port Huron vice president of admissions, leads a tour of the new Culinary Institute of Michigan.

PORT HURON, Mich. – Baker College of Port Huron officially opened its Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM) last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration along with two other businesses that are revitalizing Port Huron’s waterfront area. CIM-Port Huron classes for fall quarter begin September 30.

The new 23,000-square-foot CIM-Port Huron teaching facility was built specifically for the study of culinary arts. It supports the learning process through advanced technologies and its interior design, which includes state-of-the-art classrooms and labs, as well as unobstructed views between classrooms that facilitate the open-kitchen concept of European-style training and cooking.

The CIM-Port Huron is part of the $24-million project that also includes the DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron, Freighters Eatery and Taproom, and the future 40,000-square-foot Blue Water Area Convention Center, which is scheduled to be complete by 2015. The project is expected to generate a $25-million annual boost to the local economy during its first ten years of operation.

“The Culinary Institute of Michigan is a world-class facility that is designed to provide optimal hands-on learning experiences for our students,” said Connie Harrison, Ph.D., Baker College of Port Huron president. “Our location next to an upscale hotel, a premier restaurant and a new convention center will facilitate valuable interaction with students. This is precisely what Baker College is about: providing real-world experiences to our students that deliver a huge advantage as they move into the workforce.”

The new CIM-Port Huron facility offers:

  • seven kitchens/labs
  • an Innovation Lab/classroom and other multipurpose rooms
  • a large walk-in freezer and refrigerator with an adjoining supply room
  • a 50-seat, student-operated restaurant that will open spring 2014

“Each kitchen is designed for the optimal experience and success of students,” said Thomas Recinella, CEC®, ACE, AAC®, culinary arts program director for Baker College of Port Huron. “As an example, our charcuterie kitchen includes all pertinent equipment used by the garde manger chef and charcuterie professional. Throughout our facility, students will work with all new equipment produced by the best food service equipment manufacturers in the world, including the Garland Group, Irinox, Hobart Corporation and Alto-Shaam, among others.”

The ribbon-cutting event itself provided a real-world experience to students. Recinella, faculty and students prepared and served hors d’oeuvres to the 300 guests who were also invited to tour the new building. The menu included:

  • crab cake with romesco sauce
  • mini shrimp cocktail
  • mini individual crudité
  • assorted cheeses with hand-crafted crackers and three student-made cheeses
  • a trio of grilled semolina flatbreads, beef short rib and goat cheese
  • butter-poached lobster with sweet-corn essence and vine-ripe tomatoes
  • grilled baby vegetables
  • apple jack marinated turkey breast with honey-thyme butter carved to order
  • assorted chocolates and homemade mini brownies and lemon cheese cake

Current CIM-Port Huron programs include two associate degrees: one in culinary arts and one in food and beverage management. Future potential programs include a certificate and associate degree in baking and pastry and a bachelor’s degree in food and beverage management.

Recinella joined Baker College last year to oversee these studies. He has 30 years of experience in the food service industry, including serving as manager and co-chef with his wife at Winnisook Club, the oldest private club in the Catskill Mountains; owner and chef de cuisine of Main Street Bovina, a fine-dining restaurant, catering business and retail grocery store in South Central New York state; and chef de cuisine at Heathers Golf and Country Club–Total Golf, Inc., in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Most recently, he was the culinary arts director at State University of New York. Last summer, Recinella was inducted into membership of the prestigious gastronomic society Disciples Escoffier International-USA.

For more information about Baker College programs, email Daniel Kenny at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call the admissions office at 888.262.2442.

The largest private college in Michigan, Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It is a nonprofit higher education institution, serving more than 28,000 students on 12 campuses and in three satellite locations. Baker grants certificates and associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, health sciences, education and human services, and various technical fields, as well as a doctorate of business administration. As a career college, the Baker College system is pleased to report that 97 percent of its available graduates are employed. For more information about Baker College, please visit For information about the Culinary Institute of Michigan, a division of Baker College of Port Huron, visit