Cal Poly is located at the Boswell Ag Tech Center, San Luis Obispo, CA
The new school year at US colleges and universities, is well underway. With that in mind, we were curious as to some of the changes that are coming to dining programs at the nation’s institutes of higher learning.
As we searched, we found that Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA had commissioned one of the smartest and most forward-looking commercial kitchens for teaching in recent memory. Situated in Cal Poly’s new Boswell Ag Tech Center, the campus’s new 4,200 square-foot teaching facility augurs the future of commercial kitchen design with a seamless blend of comfort, sustainability, safety, air quality, and smart tech functionality.
The new Cal Poly dining facility enables students, faculty and industry to come together to create safe, healthy and sustainable food for the future – while solving today’s more complex food issues. The new center will serve as a hub for students, faculty and industry to gather and share knowledge to drive the food industry forward in the areas of food safety, culinary development and sensory evaluation.
Cal Poly’s new Boswell Ag Tech Facility is exploring environmental concerns and a rising global population. The goal is to help initiate an agenda for agriculture and food innovation. The mission to come together to create a path forward that is focused on the holistic health and wellness by addressing issues such as food waste, improved nutrition, and food safety from field to fork.
Designed to be aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective, the new culinary lab features two large cooking suites with utility distribution systems. As a result, equipment can easily be changed out for different instructors, chefs, and students without requiring new wall
In addition, the new kitchen also features an open concept design, reduced energy output and fully conditioned, fresh outside air from dedicated outside air systems.
California Polytechnic State University
College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science
San Luis Obispo, CA
The Kitchen Equipment & Supply Dealer
Brad LaBel, President, LaBel Foodservice, Coram, NY
The Kitchen Consultant
Brad Barnes, Principal, Pure Food, Greenwich, CT
Brad LaBel’s Approach:
Along with Pure Food’s Brad Barnes, we share a longstanding commitment to highly sustainable and functional kitchen design. We have known each other for a long time as graduates of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
We initially partnered on the Cal Poly project with ZGF Architects and then noted equipment engineers and manufacturers Accurex and ECOAZUR.
We were able to work together to design a smart, intuitive kitchen ventilation solutions to the project that include multiple kitchen hoods by Accurex, an industry leader in commercial kitchen ventilation solutions; and ECOAZUR, a provider of demand control kitchen ventilation systems, all ducted to one single exhaust fan to manage airflow requirements and ensure maximum possible energy savings.
Moreover, advanced make-up air units and dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) utilized in the new Cal Poly kitchen bring fresh, tempered air back into the space so as to maximize the comfort, health and safety of students and faculty alike.
The Cal Poly project gave our LaBel Foodservice Equipment & Design team that specializes in commercial kitchen design, restaurant kitchen equipment supply, renovations and project management the opportunity to showcase our talents. For the last two decades our portfolio has comprised projects running the gamut from small foodservice equipment replacements to the design and construction of large high-profile restaurants, public venues and other prominent destinations.
Brad Barnes’ Approach:
This project was the perfect blend of form following function and using technology to support educational delivery. We offer a diverse menu of essential services that include facility design, R&D innovation, strategic food business planning, team development, user experience enhancement, sustainable functionality, energy and cost reduction and long-term growth planning.
The Cal Poly project required integrating various types of ventilation equipment and bringing incremental efficiencies into one connected kitchen space. Engineered to work together while serving different functions of the ventilation process, Accurex provided utility distribution systems, kitchen hoods, exhaust fans, make-up air units and DOAS to help Cal Poly’s new kitchen maintain a safe, comfortable environment for students and staff.
The project also serves to provide a strong, efficient learning environment for Cal Poly’s culinary and sensory lab classes. Kitchens are hotspots for contaminated air since cooking produces grease, steam, smoke, heat, and in some cases nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
With that, we counted on Accurex’s industry-leading exhaust hoods and fans to help capture, contain and remove heat and contaminated air from the kitchen environment. Air removed is replaced with fresh outside air provided by Accurex make-up air units and dedicated outdoor air systems – a health and safety measure of greater importance than ever among designers, restaurateurs, and the public in general.
In addition, the use of Accurex’s Utility Distribution Systems offers Cal Poly’s unique setup a more flexible solution for appliance utilities as opposed to contractor built-in utility walls that limit the location and type of appliances available for use.
The ECOAZUR ventilation systems were perfect for this project because one-of-a-kind temperature sensors, optic sensors, and modulating dampers to achieve optimum productivity.
This enabled us to generate sizeable energy savings estimated at close to $45,000 annually for the Cal Poly kitchen. ECOAZUR’S temperature sensors look for temperature changes that are happening underneath the kitchen hoods such as smoke, steam, grease, and particulates being produced by the cooking equipment. As temperature increases, dampers facilitate the correct exhaust rates at each individual hood despite being connected to one single fan.
Cal Poly’s Approach:
The significance of the Boswell Ag Tech Center is that students, faculty and industry can come together to create safe, healthy and sustainable food for the future. At the same time the facility will enable us to work on today’s more complex food issues. The new center will serve as a hub for to gather and share knowledge to drive the food industry forward in the areas of food safety, culinary development and sensory evaluation.
Students will be exposed to leading innovations in the food and agriculture industries, from research to practical application. The modernized facilities will prepare students to be leaders upon graduation. The state-of-the-art labs were developed in close partnership with industry to ensure student success upon their entry into the workforce.
One of the keys to this project is the collaboration between our university and the industry. This crucial partnership will provide students with the knowledge and skills to address current and future challenges. Specific areas of focus include product development, evaluation of nutrition products and supplements designed to support exercise recovery, sensory analysis of food and beverage products, research of risk assessment data in the food and agriculture industries and the metabolic consequences of dietary interventions and disease processes.
The new center also addresses complex food issues. With environmental concerns and a rising global population, it is critical for agriculture and food innovation to come together to create a path forward that is focused on the holistic health and wellness of not only consumers but the environment by addressing issues such as food waste, improved nutrition, and food safety from field to fork. In our own rather ironic tribute to sustainability the Cal Poly’s original culinary training kitchen will now be used as a research kitchen.
Cal Poly offers one of the only food production programs that allows students to work directly with staff and industry to design, produce and sell commercial food items including chocolate, jam and barbecue sauce. The new Nutrition and Food Studies Lab will support new food and beverage product development and provide students and faculty with the analytical instrumentation for determining nutrient levels and other food components.
The seven new labs within the Boswell Ag Tech Center will enable research and discovery to help train tomorrow’s leaders in food safety and innovation. The center provides the opportunity to expand the applied research projects with faculty and students, while creating a stronger channel of recruitment of interns and graduates.
The new labs were designed in consult with industry and use the latest technology, exposing students to cutting-edge equipment and processes that they will experience in industry upon graduation.
One great example of this is the Sensory Lab which will be used to train students and conduct research to determine insights into consumer goods and new product development. It expands the opportunities for food companies to sponsor research, joint projects and consumer testing – giving students the opportunity to work directly with companies on products that are being developed or already in market.
The center’s new food safety lab supports the need for risk assessment data in the food and agriculture industries. The lab is designed as a biosafety level 2 facility suitable for research of foodborne pathogens of moderate potential hazard to people and the environment.
Faculty and students will use this lab to conduct studies to determine the ability of pathogens to grow, survive or die-off during processing and/or storage. Additionally, the development of food safety mitigation processes or strategies will be supported by this lab.
The Boswell Ag Tech Center was built with an eye towards the future. California has become synonymous with food innovation. Cal Poly’s ideal location on the Central Coast positions students and researchers to partner with industry leaders in meeting current demands and preparing for future challenges.
The Boswell Ag Tech Center provides a premier facility for students. Cal Poly will continue to grow industry partnerships to further innovation in the industry and address future challenges.