The OC Fair & Event Center is officially launching Hatch Culinary Lab. This new cutting-edge cooking academy empowers underserved youth via free culinary education and mentorship. Hatch Culinary Lab’s convenient OC Fairgrounds location allows for the school to be centrally located for various school districts. In fact, a complete renovation of one of the commercial kitchens on the fairgrounds led to the creation of Hatch Culinary Lab.  The 6,500 square foot facility is now a fully equipped teaching kitchen, complete with the best appliances and cookware.


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The OC Fair and Event Center creates Hatch Culinary Lab with help from some great local partners.


The OC Fair and Event Center came together with CulinaryLab Cooking School, Anaheim’s Innovative Mentorship Experience program, Spectra, the fair’s master concessionaire, in order to make this program a reality. Together, these sponsors put together a pristine culinary education curriculum designed to provide the best training possible for its students. Due to the support from the sponsors, up to 50 students annually are able to participate. Students will be learning everything from knife skills, cookery basics and making healthy meals to safety and sanitation.



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The first eight-week session began on February 28. Starting off, the program has 20 students enrolled. These students are coming from the local Kennedy, Savanna, Western High Schools. Following this eight week curriculum, students have the opportunity to pursue summer internships. In the fall, the Hatch Culinary Lab will continue by providing a fall certification program. All of these great programs will accumulate in an event to feed the local homeless community.

Students in the Hatch Culinary Lab are chosen from members of the Anaheim Innovative Mentorship Experience Program on an as need basis. To apply for the program, and to be considered for enrollment into Hatch Culinary Lab, fill out the application here.

In addition, all of the OC Fair and Event staff are thrilled to be working for such a beneficial cause. CEO Kathy Kramer is especially ready to change the lives of students through Hatch Culinary Lab. The OC Fair’s love for food makes them the perfect partner for this great program.  Kramer believes that the Hatch Culinary Lab is the perfect way to blend their community outreach with the fair’s passions. Kramer looks to grow the culinary school curriculum to include training for both kitchen staff and front-of-the-house positions.


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CulinaryLab is another major partner in this program that is eager to change the lives of local aspiring chefs.

The CulinaryLab team out of Tustin is donating staff and time to the program in addition to designing the curriculum. Their goal is for students to learn the basics on how food works, healthy cooking skills and simple recipes they can practice at home with minimal cost and prep time. Ultimately, CulinaryLab and the OC Fair want to excite students about cooking and food service in order to empower them to be confident individuals ready to secure employment.

Chef Ryan Wagner of CulinaryLab dedicates his time every day to immerse students in the world of cooking. This immersion happens through experimentation, repetitive hands-on practice, and by involving local chef partners in the teaching process. Wagner’s goal for the Hatch Culinary Lab is to bring the same elevated culinary education to high school students who might not otherwise have access to it. For more information on the curriculum of the program visit Culinary Lab’s website here.



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Lastly, Spectra is the partner in this program who is operating the 6,500 square foot culinary teaching facility. In addition, Spectra is supporting the program by donating kitchen labor and dishwashers to help the students. The most amazing part about all of this is that the Spectra team not only wants to see student chefs transform and grow, but also they plan to hire program graduates. Hatch Culinary Lab graduates will have the opportunity to work at the OC Fair doing kitchen prep and cooking for special events.

All of the partners involved in the Hatch Culinary Lab are eager to see success in the first eight-week session.

The ultimate goal is to expand the program through partnerships in the Costa Mesa and Santa Ana school districts. With this expansion, the Hatch Culinary lab can serve up to 80 students annually. The next step in this process is securing restaurant partners to help further the student’s training.  At the end of the day, students are receiving an estimated $20,000 worth of culinary education through this wonderful program.


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It will be incredible to watch these young chefs grow via Hatch Culinary Lab. Who knows, one day these students may go on to be some of the top culinary artists in Orange County simply because they were provided with this great opportunity. To donate to this incredible cause, reach out to the OC Fair website for more information.