Twist and shout: Paterson GlobalFoods Institute celebrates fifth anniversary with pretzel-making tutorial

Susanne Gessler, Paul Vogt and Brian Bowman, Paterson GlobalFoods Institute 5th anniversaryMayor Brian Bowman and Red River College President Paul Vogt joined students from RRC’s Professional Baking and Patisserie program this morning to mark the five-year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute with a friendly pretzel-making bake-off.

The two were assisted by Suzanne Gessler, proud RRC graduate and owner of The Pennyloaf Bakery, a small-batch artisanal shop on Corydon. Gessler coached Bowman and Vogt while sharing her experiences as a baker and business owner — one who set aside her career as a civil servant to attend RRC’s Exchange District culinary school.

Gessler is one of more than 600 graduates who’ve passed through the doors of PGI since it became the new home to RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in 2012.

“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,” says Vogt.

“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 its restoration, PGI was home to the Union Bank Tower, Winnipeg’s first and oldest skyscraper — and at one time, the tallest building in Canada. Today, the LEED Gold-certified building houses RRC’s culinary, hospitality and baking programs, as well as the College’s first-ever student residence, which is running at full capacity this year.

PGI is a key component of RRC’s Exchange District Campus, which also includes the nearby Roblin Centre on Princess Street. The campus will soon undergo a massive expansion with the construction of a 100,000-square foot Innovation Centre. Fundraising efforts supporting the new state-of-the-art facility are now underway.

“Red River College continues to be a strong anchor and foundation supporting the growth and revitalization of our downtown and the Exchange District,” says Bowman. “It’s great to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, a building that continues to help 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 PGI, the number of graduates from RRC’s culinary and hospitality programs has increased by almost 30 per cent, with upwards of 90 per cent pursuing careers in those industries finding employment within six months. Conveniently, the Exchange District is home to a host of popular restaurants — many of them managed and staffed 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 of the program’s goals is to help develop innovative new uses for locally grown food, while supporting Manitoba’s agricultural and food industry.

At today’s event, the CRI team talked to students about working with local business The Pretzel Place, while showcased newly developed seasoning blends and improvements to the pretzel-browning process. The demonstration allowed students to see firsthand how the skills and knowledge they’re acquiring in school can be applied later in industry.

Demand for culinary research and innovation is increasing. Over the last few years, CRI has been involved in at least 40 such industry partnerships with the likes of Granny’s Poultry, Manitoba Pulse and Soy Growers, the provincial Food Development Centre, and MSPrebiotics Inc.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the culinary community in Winnipeg, thanks in large part to the role PGI has played in training and inspiring many of our city’s finest culinary minds,” says Vogt.

“I am honoured to be here today, celebrating with our guests, instructors, faculty members, and Manitoba’s up-and-coming chefs and bakers, who will continue to innovate, create and change the world of food for generations to come.”