How we started...
In the Fall of 2011, driven by important needs for their community, a small group of both summer and year-round residents began developing a unique concept in culinary education that ideally suited the Les Cheneaux Islands area and the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The success of the Great Lakes Boat Building School in the area played an encouraging role. Its offering of an unusual and rewarding vocational experience was drawing students and visitors from afar. A culinary school, fashioned along similar lines, seemed to be a very logical addition to the area. It would share similar aesthetics in its appeal to the senses, which made it so appropriate for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an extraordinary place of nature. With the dire need for top quality vocational education finally being recognized throughout the country, no place seemed better suited to support it than this area, where so many persons are in critical need of developing new skills to access the job market.
The group also believed that the new emphasis on farm-to-table fine dining played right into the burgeoning of sustainable agriculture in the region. The economy would be notably strengthened by supporting local growers and learning exciting new ways to utilize natural foods. In recent years there had been increasing demand by summer residents for a fine-quality restaurant that would be readily accessible to boaters traveling to and from their island homes, as well as marina visitors from the outer reaches.
In November 2013, caring investors formed an LLC to acquire Hessel Bay Inn and extensively renovate it, specifically for Les Cheneaux Culinary School. The latter was incorporated as a non-profit, applying for 501(c)(3) status, with the plan to lease the facility from the investors. This tactic greatly reduced the amount of charitable funds that otherwise would have been needed to support the project in its entirety.
Construction began that December, and in March, after a two-year search for a director who would fully relate to the concept, Zachary Schroeder, a St. Ignace-area native, accepted the position of Program Director/Executive Chef/Lead Instructor. A talented, energetic and enthusiastic visionary, he came with exceptional credentials and references.
On September 15, 2014, LCCS opened its doors, right on schedule, to welcome its first class of eight students.