Culinary Institute still carries Park City name, values

Location in Salt Lake City has kitchen space for more

Students at the Park City Culinary Institute prepare crostini at their kitchen space off State Street in Salt Lake City. The institute has graduated over 1,000 students through their professional certificate program.
Courtesy of the Park City Culinary Institute website

This year, the Park City Culinary Institute celebrates over a decade teaching students about the joys of cooking. And while they’ve left the mountain-town life for the bustling streets of the state’s capital, they’ve continued the Park City way, offering award-winning culinary education to recreational students and certified chefs alike. 

Since certification as a professional culinary school in 2014, the institute has had over 1,000 graduates of all backgrounds, more than any other culinary school in the region. From home cooks to food and beverage entrepreneurs to career chefs, the institute welcomes any student, regardless of skill and goal.

“Most of our students are over 30 and come to us because they’d like to cook better at home, not just because they have professional goals,” says Laurie Moldawer, the owner and founder.

With professional training, at-home cooks can ditch recipes when entertaining, equipped with universal techniques and other high-level skills, she says.

The institute also offers further education to experienced chefs.

“A lot of people will come when they’re sous chefs, and they’ll get the certificate to help graduate into an executive chef role,” Moldawer says. 

Another trend she’s noticed is the entrepreneurial mindset of their students: “They want to own or already own their business,” she says. 

Some of the better-known graduates of the institute are Jonathan Price, made executive chef of Ruth Chris Steakhouse at 21; Justin French, the executive chef at White Horse; and founders of companies like Crumbl Cookies, Kodiak Cakes, Waffle Love and Ichibon. 

The three instructors at the school today are Lorenzo Bindrup, David Avery and Anthony Crossley, and in “a crazy coincidence of fortune, all three are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America,” says Moldawer.

Bindrup focuses on Asian cuisine, Crossley has spent his career studying Italian cuisine, and Avery has a traditional French background. Together, the three offer individual approaches to cooking and work together to come up with innovative recipes for their students.  

Being a boutique cooking institute allows the school to keep classes intimate, with anywhere from six to 16 students in a class. All skill levels are taught in the same classes because the instructors cater to each individual.

“Our hope is that people get the chance to learn the dishes and the things that they want to learn,” says Bindrup.

“I attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris, so I have a different view of what we should be teaching,” says Moldawer. “We look at what people would want to learn … so it’s more about cooking from scratch and using good ingredients.”

With her training and attitude toward lifelong learning, Moldawer believes she is well-equipped at the helm of the institute.

“I’m determined to make sure that what we’re creating is really high quality food,” she says. “I’ve traveled a lot — I’ve been to nearly 60 countries, trying to pick up what types of cooking classes you can do in Thailand or France.” 

She says she’s invested in the curriculum and likes to keep a finger on the pulse of the culinary world, ensuring the Park City Culinary Institute offers a competitive option for chefs. 

Since starting the institute as a recreational cooking school, Moldawer has pushed her vision of excellence into reality, and the trend follows a similar growth in the Utah food scene. 

“There’s a lot of exciting movement in the market. Food’s definitely gotten better since we started, in Utah in general,” says Moldawer.

With higher demand, increased job security and larger salaries, Moldawer says the institute sees more flexibility for graduates of its programs.

“When the market was harder, you had to help people get a job,” she says. “Now we’re coaching students on what’s best for them. They don’t have to take every job they’re offered.”

There are two five-week programs: Pastry and Baking Certificate ($6,260) and Cuisine Certificate ($6,840). A 10-week program covers both subjects, earning students a professional certificate in the culinary arts ($9,990). Payment plans are available and each on-campus course is eligible for GI Bill coverage. 

For those seriously interested in attending the institute, an open house/chef demo is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23, at 11 a.m. 

“​​Our chefs will walk you through techniques used by professionals in kitchens throughout the country. We’ll answer your questions and give you the scoop on what our classes are like. We’re excited to meet you and give you a ‘taste’ of what you’ll be cooking with us!” says their website. 

Free for anyone interested in the school, registration can be found here:

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