SCHENECTADY – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, officials from SUNY Schenectady and Schenectady County today celebrated a new collaboration between the College and the Mill Artisan District.

Starting with the Fall 2020 semester, students in SUNY Schenectady’s celebrated Culinary Arts program will be able to take classes in all things chocolate at the Mill Artisan District. Students will take courses and participate in labs in the “bean to bar” craft chocolate movement. College and County officials celebrated the new course offerings with food prepared and served by faculty and students in the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism, through the College’s Food Truck.

The College recently signed a lease to occupy almost 3,000 square feet of space at the Mill Artisan District, a block away from the main campus. The College has engaged a consultant to help design architectural plans to create a culinary classroom and lab space for chocolate, pastry, and baking instruction. Construction is scheduled to take place this spring and summer, with the goal of offering classes for the Fall 2020 semester.

“This is going to be a special space for us as we become part of the Mill Artisan District,” said Dr. Steady Moono, College President. “Not only will we be offering students the opportunity to discover the art of making high-quality chocolate, a new avenue for our Culinary Arts program; we will also be contributing further to the spirit of downtown Schenectady’s renaissance as students and faculty work and learn inside the new space at this exciting downtown development.”

Chef Vanessa Traver, who has a passion for the art of craft chocolate and recently studied the growing movement at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, is looking forward to teaching chocolate and confection courses in the new space. “What makes this so special is that students will learn the process from bean to bar because they will be making the chocolate from scratch,” she explained. “SUNY Schenectady is going to be a real part of the craft chocolate movement starting with the cocoa bean.”

Students will develop their skills at flavoring chocolate through various flavor profiles incorporating sea salt and nuts in dark, white, and milk chocolate. They will utilize equipment including a roaster, a refiner to break down cocoa beans, and a winnower that separates the cocoa nib from the shell.

Ann Fleming Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees, noted that the College’s expansion at the Mill Artisan District is another example of how the institution engages the community and continues to offer a diverse array of new courses and programs for students. “We are pleased to further link the College to downtown Schenectady and offer students a new and exciting choice in the Culinary Arts field at the same time,” she said. “We serve our community in a myriad of ways and offering craft chocolate courses further showcases the excellent work of our faculty and staff.”

“SUNY Schenectady’s new craft chocolate classes pair perfectly with the Mill Artisan District,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “This exciting partnership will help keep the College at the forefront of New York’s culinary arts programs while expanding its downtown footprint and attracting even more students and visitors to the County.”

The Mill Artisan District is a $35 million mixed-use development located on lower State Street in downtown Schenectady. The Mill project features the Frog Alley Brewery, a taproom, apartments, multiple retail stores including Bountiful Bread, the new chocolate program, and the Jahnel Group, a fast growing software company. Future plans include SUNY Schenectady’s Craft Brewing program and a distillery.

“Hosting SUNY Schenectady’s new chocolate program is an honor for our team,” said JT Pollard, developer and owner of the project said. “It is a great fit with the goal of showcasing food and beverage artisans at work making and selling their freshly made products in a fun community gathering space.”


About SUNY Schenectady
Founded in 1969, SUNY Schenectady County Community College (SUNY Schenectady) is one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, the largest comprehensive university system in the United States. SUNY Schenectady is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Through transferable degree and certificate programs, affordable tuition, strong student support services and a personalized approach to learning, SUNY Schenectady provides students with a regionally-acclaimed education that empowers them to take the next step in their lives. SUNY Schenectady offers degree and certificate programs through the:

•           School of Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism
•           School of Music
•           Division of Business, Criminal Justice, and Law
•           Division of Liberal Arts
•           Division of Math, Science, Technology, and Health

SUNY Schenectady also offers an array of Workforce Development and Community Education services and non-credit courses.  Learn more by visiting:


Share This