Project Profile: NCCU Pearson Cafeteria and Teaching Kitchen

The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Pearson Cafeteria Renovation and Expansion project includes a modern cafeteria with a seating capacity of 1,750 students, dining facilities for staff and various conference rooms. Since the project’s inception in 2003, the project budget grew from $1.3 million to $13 million while the square footage increased from 27,000 sq. ft. to 56,000 sq. ft.

The facility also includes a special Teaching Kitchen. The Project Requirements called for a space designed for classes on cooking and food preparation where a chef/instructor could move freely from one food preparation station to the next and still allow the students to see and hear what was going on from their desks. Additionally, each food preparation station needed to be recorded on video and/or transmitted over a video conferencing system for distance learning.

For incoming distance learning video, a wall mounted flat panel display is located on the central column facing the student seating area. Two motorized video projection screens roll down at the front of the class to the left and right sides of the food prep stations for viewing the lesson/meal in progress.

The following cameras are necessary to cover all of the areas, all controlled remotely. A wall-mounted camera is located on the back wall for a view of the instructor. Ceiling mounted cameras over the food prep tables look down on preparation surfaces for a bird’s eye view. Behind the food prep tables are the various hot cooking surfaces, fryers and soup kettle. Remote cameras are also located under the vent hood over the “hot” preparation area. These cameras are mounted in an air-tight protective housing behind a glass dome in order to keep hot steam and grease from compromising the camera optics and electronics. The instructor chooses which camera feed to display by way of a remote control panel or a push button located near each camera.

A wireless head-worn microphone, kept less than an inch from the instructor’s mouth, picks up their voice. This type of microphone was chosen because of the high level of fan noise coming from the fan hood.

The completed kitchen allows the chef / instructor to teach a large number of students both in the classroom and at distance learning centers.