HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – After years of training America’s future professional chefs, the former Connecticut Culinary Institute has shut its doors for good. The institute opened in 1987 in Farmington as a school for cooking enthusiasts. It eventually evolved into a short term three month training program for professional chefs while maintaining the hobbyist program. The school also operated a café and catering business featuring fresh baked goods, soups, and salads with the professionals of the UCONN Medical Center as their main clientele.
A decade later the school was purchased by Bradley Baran of the Baran Institute of Technology. From there, The Connecticut Culinary Institute experienced rapid growth due to the access to federal financial aid packages for potential students. Bursting at the seams in the Farmington location, the search began for a larger location. In 2006, Baran reached a deal with Winstanley Enterprises to transform the 367,000 square foot former Aetna Institute and Hastings Hotel at 85 Sigourney Street in Hartford into a culinary and baking school. Seven state of the art teaching kitchens were built, two of which were dedicated to pastry and baking. The new school opened in August 2006, and began housing students from all over the country in the six floors of former hotel rooms at the institute. An articulation agreement was reached with the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners that allowed CCI students to learn abroad in Italy. At it’s height, there were over 500 students at one time in Hartford, where over ninety percent of the students graduated taking employment in food establishments all over the country.
In 2010, The Connecticut Culinary Institute was purchased by Lincoln Educational Services of West Orange New Jersey. Eventually the name was changed to Lincoln Culinary Institute to coincide with their other culinary campuses in Shelton, CT, Maryland and Florida. In 2014, the US Department of Education started implementing plans to enforce “gainful employment” where a student who graduates from a non degree granting institution cannot spend more than 8% of their expected income upon graduation paying back their student loans. This was the beginning of the end for the Hartford campus. Chef Jamie Roraback, who has been with the school for 21 years has been overseeing the closing of the Hartford campus. The final graduation will be next month.