HAVERHILL — Do you love spring rolls and wish you could make them as good as you can get in a restaurant? How about impressing your family with an outstanding example of chicken or veal marsala or maybe a platter of your own handmade pasta?
These are just a few of the skills you can learn when Northern Essex Community College launches a series of community classes in March ranging from cooking to beekeeping to food and wine pairing, as part of its offerings at The Heights at Haverhill.
And come next fall, the college will launch culinary arts and hospitality certificate programs at The Heights, a towering 10-story project local developer Sal Lupoli is bringing to downtown Merrimack Street.
The Heights will also have luxury apartments, a restaurant, and a function hall with an open air lounge. It will also have a cooking incubator space for budding entrepreneurs.
"We want to be the spark that gets them going," said Denis Boucher, who Northern Essex Community College tapped to run its new culinary arts and hospitality management program that will take up two floors of The Heights.
Now in its seventh month of construction and on schedule, Lupoli's building is expected to celebrate its grand opening in February.
Northern Essex Community College plans to launch a series of special interest courses open to the community beginning in March, then the launch its culinary arts and hospitality certificate programs next fall. Floors four through nine of the building will each offer seven apartments, all with spacious terraces, sweeping river views, floor to ceiling windows and designer inspired finishes and details.
The first floor of the building will house a restaurant and lounge that will spill out onto the boardwalk, which will be extended, while the 10th floor will house a sky bar with fire pits and outdoor furniture as well as a function hall and a resident-only rooftop lounge and activity area.
Lupoli, along with NECC President Lane Glenn, and Boucher hosted a tour of the building on Wednesday, even though construction is still taking place.
Lupoli told the group that restaurant owners and those in the hospitality business will be lining up to support NECC's programs.
"I'm not sure if there is a location in Massachusetts with this proximity to water," Lupoli said, adding that The Heights is the most unique project he's worked on and that its apartments can be compared to the some of the best in Boston. "If you were in Boston, same beautiful views so to speak, you'd have to pay three, four, five, six times what we are charging."
Glenn said his college is looking to maximize the use of The Heights by not only offering community classes, but also kayak lessons.
Boucher said the second floor of the building will house classrooms and an office for MassHire, while the third floor will house nine cooking and food preparation stations, several of which when not in use by the college will be made available to food entrepreneurs as incubator space.
Looking out through the floor to ceiling windows, he exclaimed, "who would not want to be a student here?"
A proponent of the farm-to-table concept, Boucher said he plans to connect with area farmers to purchase the freshest locally produced products that are available, for use in his program.
He said that NECC's hospitality program will prepare students for jobs in the hotel industry, on cruise ships, and in restaurants, while the culinary arts program is intended to prepare students for work in commercial kitchens.
"We'll graduate students who will go into many facets of the food industry," Boucher said.
A native of Maine, Boucher now lives in Exeter, N.H. He has worked in the food industry since high school and continued in it after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. He has been a chef in many restaurants, managed restaurants, and he even ran his own one.
He also taught a variety of food and beverage management classes at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and taught similar classes at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y.
"Along with a small staff, we'll also be inviting in guest chefs to teach and to demonstrate cooking and baking techniques," he said. "The food industry is starving for people who have been trained. I don't know a chef who isn't looking for somebody."
To learn more about NECC's programs, visit necc.mass.edu/learn/credit-programs/business/business-management-hospitality or necc.mass.edu/learn/credit-programs/business/culinary-arts-certificate.