WSU Tech is set to open the National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education, or NICHE, in January in downtown Wichita. 

Students in the college’s culinary arts program will be able to take classes in the new space. It is located at the intersection of William and Broadway in the old Henry’s department store building. 

“It means applied learning experiences, right?” Executive Chef Lexi Michael said. “Best way to learn, especially in a tech school, is to do hands-on work.”

Michael is the chair of WSU Tech’s Culinary Arts program. Students will work out of the Envision Kitchen Bistro, and she said the building will continue growing to include a food hall, restaurant, event space and more as time goes on. 

“The fact that this is still standing and that I get to take my passion for food, my passion for the local food community and help it…help it grow, take it up a notch, this is just full circle for me as a Wichitan, as a food professional,” she said. 

WSU Tech is also partnering with Envision to bring a new culinary program for blind and visually impaired students to participate in on site. Michael said the project is two years in the making. 

“I've taken my parents through many, many times and my dad and his friends, and they all reminisce about being kids shopping in this building,” Michael said. “I remember coming to this building.”

Classes for next semester begin in January. Michael said, down the road, WSU Tech also plans on offering non-credit classes for people interested at NICHE. 

“They said, go, and they said, dream big,” Michael said. 

This comes as enrollment at Kansas technical colleges has grown over 15% over the last five years. You can learn about WSU Tech’s programs and how to apply, just click here.