The two initial hospitality programs, hotel and restaurant management and dietary technician, were both started in 1969. The opening was delayed until a new specialized building, currently building #7, was ready for occupancy on the Ankeny Campus in 1971.

Both programs

  • were seven quarters in length.
  • awarded an Associate in Applied Science Degree.
  • had a common core of department courses and related instruction.
  • included a summer quarter paid work experience.
  • included some unique courses for each option.

The Hotel Restaurant Program. The original hospitality program focused on preparing students for jobs in the hotel and restaurant industry, with the skills and knowledge to advance to first-level management positions, in both hotels and restaurants.

The Dietary Technician Program. This program shared many courses with the hotel/restaurant program but placed emphasis on preparing students for employment in institution food facilities (health care facilities and organizational food service).

The Culinary Arts Program. In 1974 a culinary option was added, including a two-year degree, and a commercial cooking one-year diploma, which was designed for students who left the program after their first year to accept employment. This program expanded dramatically over the years and is now the largest of the hospitality programs in enrollment.

In 2005 the program was renamed the Iowa Culinary Institute™ at Des Moines Area Community College to highlight its major role in the restaurant industry in Iowa. It is the only trademarked program of its kind in our state.

Advisory committees played a key role in the development of the hospitality programs. Committees assisted in defining the need for the programs, their objectives and student learning outcomes, the layout of facilities and identification of appropriate equipment for the kitchens and dining rooms. Most were helpful in placing students both in work experiences and jobs. Several committee members were especially helpful: Jim Fay, Bishops Cafeteria; Anna Katherine Jernigan, consultant; Eleanor Kempfer, Iowa Methodist Hospital; and Frank Marcella, Bolton and Hay Corporation.

Lynn Ross, RD (registered dietician), was the original hospitality program chair. Other faculty included David Kelley, culinary arts and Rosemary Hedland, RD, nutrition. Robert Anderson joined the program to develop a culinary option. Patty Bysman and Ann Hintz also were long term instructors. Ken Johnson and Lori Dowie were additional faculty who were added in the culinary and hotel programs.

International Dinners (Gourmet Dinners)—In 1975 Chef Anderson organized a gourmet dinner in conjunction with the International Year Program that the college was offering. The country selected for the dinner initially was the one featured for that year. The dinner was a major project for the second year culinary students and involved researching the country and culture, determining what native dishes would be included in the dinner, finding recipes, and assuming different management roles in the organization, production and serving of the meal. The first-year students volunteered to be the servers and were provided training in how to serve, as well as being briefed on the menu so they could respond to questions from the guests. The dinners were so popular that the number of dinners was expanded after a few years, each with a country or cultural theme. The program moved from holding nine gourmet dinners, to over 40, each year.

This lead to the establishment of the relationship with chefs from the St-Etienne region when they were invited to participate in the dinner the year the college featured the country of France.

The French Chef Program—In 1985 Des Moines acquired a Sister-City in St-Etienne, France. In 1986 Des Moines Area Community College hosted the first French Chef Exchange, leading to the creation of the DMACC French Chef Exchange program, coordinated by Maura Nelson, DMACC French Professor. Each year in January, two chefs from L'Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire, (the Chefs' Association from the St-Etienne region) come to DMACC's Iowa Culinary Institute as guest lecturers for the Culinary Arts Program. For two weeks, the chefs demonstrate techniques of classical French cuisine to all of our culinary arts students and faculty. A bilingual interpreter facilitates communication between the chefs and the audience, allowing students and faculty to ask questions about cooking techniques, as well as questions relating to cultural differences between France and the United States. The guest chefs also plan the menu for three dinners and the students prepare this meal under the guest chefs' supervision.

Several students are selected to serve individual culinary apprenticeships in restaurants of chefs from the Loire Association. Theses apprenticeships run for approximately two weeks and provide a meaningful and unique learning experience for the culinary students.

Changes in the Curriculum—Although the basic course structures of each program are much like the original curriculum, there have been several changes that respond to the changing work place where students will be employed. The addition of the Enology and Viticulture Program allows our students to learn about wine from the growing of grapes to the pairing of wines with food.

Student enrollments in the programs have increased dramatically since the early days as the reputation of the program quality is common knowledge and the demand for well-qualified graduates has increased in the industry.In 1973 only three students were enrolled in culinary arts option. By the late 1970's, the culinary option became the highest enrollment program. These enrollments grew dramatically and in 2011 totaled 225, with a waiting list of 100. In order to accommodate the rising number of students, real life work experience opportunities also increased. The Bistro, a restaurant-style setting offering well-rounded business knowledge experience in all aspects of restaurant management and staff management, had typically only been offered at lunch, expanded into evening dining opportunities to patrons and supporters of the program.

The number of faculty members in the programs has also increased dramatically over the years based on student and employer demand for program graduates.