Aug. 8, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Experience Grand Rapids' Restaurant Week is a chance to explore unique menus while helping Grand Rapids Community College prepare the next generation of culinary creativity.
This year's Restaurant Week, which starts today and runs through Aug. 19, boasts special menus from more than 60 restaurants, including a special "Chef's Choice" option. For every Restaurant Week meal sold, $1 goes to scholarships for GRCC's Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.
According to Experience Grand Rapids, Restaurant Week has raised more than $143,000 for GRCC culinary students. Seven students received the scholarships last year.
"I had no idea that I would be able to get something like this," said Jarrod Benjamin, who aspires to be a personal chef one day. "I was able to continue with school because of this scholarship. I learned an incredible amount through the Secchia Institute."
Amanda Barnett left a teaching job to return to the classroom for her culinary degree. She plans to run an after-school cooking program for kids.
"Going from teaching to being a student again has been hard to adjust," she said. "Working in a restaurant too has been tough because the hours are really long, so it's really helped me a lot to have scholarships to help pay for classes."
Werner Absenger, director of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, said Restaurant Week's benefits touch all parts of West Michigan's restaurant industry.
"Customer can try new foods at some of the best restaurants in the area," he said. "Restaurants are exposed to new customers, having a chance to turn one- time diners into regulars. And the scholarship money raised helps our students offset the cost of education -- a win-win-win situation for customers, participating proprietors, and students!"
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.