Canada’s oldest skyscraper keeps baking up new opportunities in Winnipeg’s Exchange District

RRC’s Culinary Institute Now LEED Gold Certified

WINNIPEG, MB – Mayor Brian Bowman and Red River College (RRC) President and CEO Paul Vogt traded their suits and ties for aprons and baker’s hats – joining RRC’s Professional Baking and Patisserie students in the kitchen to twist, shape and celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute with a friendly pretzel-making bake-off.

The duo were joined by Suzanne Gessler, a proud alumni and owner of The Pennyloaf Bakery, a small-batch artisan bakery on Corydon. Gessler coached Bowman and Vogt as they artfully created their own take on a pretzel, while sharing her experiences as a baker and business owner after changing course in her career as a social worker and attending Red River College’s successful culinary institute.

Gessler, who graduated from the Professional Baking and Patisserie program in 2014, is one of 618 graduates who have walked through the doors of PGI since it became the new home to RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Winnipeg’s Exchange District during the 2012/13 academic year.

“Today we celebrate not only the tremendous impact the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute has had on education in our city, but also the positive impact of the College’s expansion into the Exchange District,” said Paul Vogt, RRC’s president and CEO. “Restoring heritage buildings and bringing thousands of students and staff to the area has sparked new economic activity and helped revitalize this iconic community.”

Before it was restored by Red River College, PGI was home to the Union Bank Tower, Winnipeg’s first and oldest skyscraper – and at one time, the tallest building in the Dominion of Canada. Today, this newly-certified LEED Gold building houses RRC’s culinary, hospitality and baking programs and serves as a home away from home to many students. PGI contains the the College’s first-ever student residence, which is operating at full capacity this year.

PGI is a key part of RRC’s Exchange District Campus (EDC), which also includes the Roblin Centre on Princess Street. This campus will undergo a massive expansion in the coming years with the construction of a new 100,000-square foot Innovation Centre. Fundraising efforts to build the new state-of-the-art facility are now underway.

“Red River College continues to be a strong anchor and foundation supporting growth and revitalization of our downtown and the Exchange District,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “It’s great to celebrate the five year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, a building that continues to help to foster round-the-clock activity, and it’s great to see people increasingly recognizing the Exchange as a place to visit, live, and spend money.”

Since moving to the Exchange District, the number of graduates from RRC’s culinary and hospitality programs has increased by almost 30 per cent, and 92-100 per cent of students who pursue careers in these industries find employment in the first six-months after graduation. The Exchange District area continues to be home to new restaurants – many opened by RRC grads.

PGI is also home to RRC’s growing Culinary Research & Innovation (CRI) program, which offers product development services to industry and researchers, along with testing and demonstration platforms. One important goal is to help develop new innovative uses for locally grown food and support Manitoba’s agricultural and food industry.

Today, the CRI team talked to students about working with local business The Pretzel Place, and showcased the research they have done to find innovative ways to improve the browning of pretzels and develop new seasoning blends. This creates a link for students to see firsthand how the skills and knowledge they are learning in the lab today can be applied later on when working within the food research industry, and helping local food service companies.

Demand for culinary research and innovation is increasing – the program has been involved in about 40 industry projects over the last few years with organizations such as the Manitoba Pulse and Soy Growers, Granny’s Poultry, Food Development Centre, and MSPrebiotic Inc.

Recently, Culinary Research & Innovation worked with Piccola Cucina on the development of a Hemp Macaroon, which won the silver medal for best new food product earlier this week at the Great Manitoba Food Fight 2017.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the culinary community in Winnipeg – thanks in large part to the role RRC’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute has played in training and inspiring many of our city’s finest culinary minds,” said Vogt. “I am honoured to be here today, celebrating with our distinguished guests, instructors, faculty members, and Manitoba’s up-and-coming chefs and bakers in this building who will continue to innovate, create, and change the world of food for generations to come.”