Recently proposed legislation in Lansing could allow culinary arts and hospitality programs around the state–such as those at –to use alcoholic beverages in classes and restaurants affiliated with the programs.
The bill, introduced by Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn) and referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, would give the state power to issue liquor licenses to accredited programs. It stipulates that using such licenses to sell alcoholic beverages must be for “activities that further the community college’s or university’s community or academic mission.”
The committee met last week to discuss the bill and hear testimonies from Darany, HFCC chef Richard Teeple and other HFCC officials. Darany said the meeting went well, adding that culinary arts and hospitality students in Michigan battle a competitive disadvantage when it comes to alcohol instruction.
“We felt this would better educate the students when they leave the culinary arts program so they can step right into a job,” Darany said. “If (students) don’t have that type of experience, then they’re going to be held back compared to other students that graduate from other community colleges and universities.”
The bill–a variation of previously proposed legislation–is the culmination of a long fight to introduce alcohol into culinary arts and hospitality curriculum, Darany said. And its passage could have economic benefits as well.
Legislative analysis by the Michigan House Fiscal Agency found that the bill would increase liquor license revenue $600 per license, most of which would go to local governments for enforcement.
Student use of Michigan-made products would also stimulate the state economy, Darany said.
“We have 50 Michigan wineries and over 60 Michigan breweries that will also be able to benefit from students learning to cook with their beers and wine,” he said.
Earlier versions of the bill drew opposition from restaurant and beer and wine organizations, as they feared increased competition from college and university-run restaurants and bars. But the current bill has a much more limited reach, Darany said.
“This pretty much narrows the scope to those with culinary arts programs,” Darany said. “I think (the bill) may have an excellent chance of getting out of committee, No. 1, and then passing the house floor.”
Andy Deloney, a spokesman for the Michigan Restaurant Association, wrote in an email that his organization is neutral on the plan.
Passage would facilitate increased cooperation between restaurants and culinary arts programs, said Teeple, an instructor for HFCC’s culinary arts program who testified in Lansing last week.
“I want to be fair with everybody else,” he said. “I’m really not competing against businesses. There’s going to be better training for our students. It’s the employers that are asking for this training.”
The bill will be voted on by the Committee for Regulatory Reform during its Wednesday meeting at 10:30 a.m.