Construction of new outdoor kitchen begins

When mealtime rolls around in the summer, there is nothing better than the taste of flame-grilled veggies, smoked meats or mouth-watering pizza pulled straight from a wood burning oven. The flavors of outdoor cooking are an art form—mastered with a little practice and a whole lot of passion.

Beginning this fall, Scott Community College (SCC) culinary students will be able to develop their skills in this popular form of cuisine with the construction of a state-of-theart outdoor kitchen and patio. The addition to the college’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Center has been a dream for years.

“When this building was built 10 years ago, it was supposed to have an outdoor space,” said Diane Stanley, Culinary and Hospitality Program Facilitator. “However, the idea ultimately didn’t make it into final plans due to the budget.”

Put on hold but never forgotten, plans to build the kitchen began to take shape after Scott Community College’s former President Lyn Cochran and SCC’s Foundation Director Lysa Hegland met with the Quad Cities Chamber to look at ways to engage the Quad Cities community in the food industry.

“The food industry is a known catalyst to help redevelop areas and bring in tourists,” Hegland said. “In our conversation, we discussed how different communities embrace food trends and we thought outdoor cooking and dining could be a trend our community embraces and makes its own.”

With the original building already designed to accommodate an outdoor kitchen, repeated interest in farm-to-table cooking and the support of the community, it wasn’t long before Hegland and the SCC Foundation raised the funds to move the project forward.

digital drawing of exterior

“I’m really excited because our culinary program will be the leader in this area of education,” Hegland said. “Our graduates will own and operate businesses that will become economic stimulators, adding value and helping grow the Quad Cities.”

The space will feature a concrete patio, outdoor furniture, vertical gardens for students to grow their own fresh produce, and a wide variety of cooking equipment.

“There’s going be amazing equipment for the students to learn with,” Stanley said. “We’re looking at a gaucho grill that uses both gas and wood, as well as a smoker and pizza stone oven. These outdoor cooking techniques will be infused into our curriculum.”

The space will also be used to teach continuing education culinary courses for area chefs and cooking classes for the public. Construction is currently underway, and the kitchen is expected to make its debut just in time for the start of fall classes this August.

One-of-a-kind piece of artwork

In addition to the impressive equipment, another key feature of the outdoor patio and kitchen is a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork donated by generous SCC supporter, Betty Dexter. The custom piece features beautiful ornate glass, barn wood from her original family farm and a steel “D” from a cabinet she owned.

“Betty has been actively involved in the SCC Foundation and one of our biggest supporters for years,” said Hegland. “She’s been seeking how to gift some of her treasures and this piece means a lot to her. She’s excited it will still be in the community.”

Hegland said it’s especially fitting the artwork will call SCC home because it will sit next to Crow Creek, which runs behind the culinary center. A creek of the same name flowed through Dexter’s farm.

“The barn wood came back home to be placed by Crow Creek,” Hegland said.

Learn more about EICC’s culinary programs at