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Just as the flavor of an artisanal cheese is enhanced by pairing it with the perfect wine, Geauga County offers a bounty of local resources that are amplified when brought together. Such is the case with a new partnership recently established between the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute (ICASI) in Chesterland and Kent State University-Geauga.
Thanks to this new articulation agreement, credits earned by ICASI culinary students can transfer over to any KSU campus towards an Associate’s Degree in Technical Study. Courses in the Associate of Technical Study degree program can be individually tailored to provide ICASI graduates a solid foundation for their entrepreneurial and business endeavors in the pastry and culinary fields, whether it be owning and operating their own restaurants, managing a catering service or otherwise bringing business skills in the food service industry. This agreement became official as of September 1, 2018.
Chef Stefanie Paganini, Executive Director of ICASI, says that the culinary institute was created to give students the hands-on, practical skills needed to be successful in the food industry. “This articulation agreement allows ICASI the ability to offer our students the opportunity to tailor their education journey to meet their future career goals.”
She went on to say that ICASI’s founder, Loretta Paganini, "established ICASI to give culinary and pastry students a choice in their education. As the second executive director of the school, I am so proud to further expand her vision and offer our students so much more through this affiliation with Kent.”
ICASI’s Culinary and Pastry Arts Basic Techniques Certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in the foodservice industry. ICASI’s Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts Advanced Techniques Diploma programs prepare students for positions of responsibility within the industry.
Two types of students attend ICASI: high school grads who want to pursue a career in cooking, and also second-career people who have retired, have been displaced or are finally ready to pursue their passion for cooking. Paganini says that these entrepreneurs want the all the tools necessary to be a successful business owner in the foodservice industry in the Cleveland area and beyond.
Locally, Paganini recognizes that “Geauga County is an amazing blend of suburb and country living. We are blessed to be surrounded by local farms offering the best products in Ohio. Teaching our students how to take the bounty of Geauga County and showcase it through their cooking is one of our mission goals. Our students go on to not only have successful careers but often create businesses, becoming job creators, as well. Creating businesses in Geauga, or working in local businesses, or even just supporting local farms and artisan food producers help to support the local economy,” she says.
A local foundation can result in a global impact, Paganini continued. “By allowing local students the ability to learn in their own backyard helps facilitate their understanding and appreciation of this. However, the love and respect for where ingredients come from don’t stop at the Geauga border. Our graduates work all throughout the United States and in Europe, bringing that knowledge and dedication to quality ingredients with them.”
Paganini recognizes that education offers students choices, opportunities, a global understanding, and an appreciation for their hometown. “Through this partnership with Kent-Geauga, ICASI hopes to make that education more accessible with open doors for more people. It is a partnership that everyone in the community can benefit from.”
It’s a perfect pairing.