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National Restaurant Association - Louisiana commits $35M to New Orleans culinary high school

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Louisiana commits $35M to New Orleans culinary high school

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is partnering with the state department of education to create a four-year culinary and hospitality management high school in New Orleans.

The program will operate from John McDonogh High School, a historic building in the Treme, near the French Quarter.

The state recently announced a $35 million commitment to the project, and ESPN analyst Digger Phelps discussed the project Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"Digger's not going to let this thing go," said NRAEF Executive Director Pam St. Pierre. "He's very passionate about it."

LRAEF is working with the state department of education, New Orlean's Recovery School District and charter school operator Future is Now to develop the curriculum and build a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and prep rooms. The curriculum will incorporate the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's ProStart program.

The project has been in the works for several years. LRAEF had been working with the New Orleans school system before Hurricane Katrina to develop a similar school, St. Pierre said. But the project stalled after flooding destroyed several schools.

About a year and a half ago, Phelps went on "Morning Joe" to rekindle interest and raise funding for a culinary and hospitality school at Joe McDonogh High School.

Next fall, incoming freshmen will begin their coursework in the new curriculum, and renovation is expected to be complete by the time they graduate in 2016, St. Pierre said.

Construction is expected to occur in stages over four years, with students temporarily taking classes in other schools. Some instruction could occur in mobile kitchens, restaurants or post-secondary institutions, she said.

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