Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News

A university program where food is the main component of the curriculum will soon expand, with officials breaking ground Monday on a new culinary arts instruction building at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne joined the program's namesake, Chef John Folse, and officials from Nicholls State for the groundbreaking. Dardenne tweeted a photo of the group using giant prop forks, spoons and the traditional shovels to turn the dirt.

The new 33,000-square-foot building will feature four teaching kitchens, a demonstration kitchen for outreach and broadcast learning, a bistro style restaurant with two dining rooms and a full service kitchen.

It will also include a cultural research center, student services, administration and faculty office areas, classrooms, and a commissary that includes dry storage, coolers and freezers. There will also be herb gardens that students can use to prepare dishes.

According to Gov. Jindal's office, the total project cost is $12.6 million, of which $8.1 million was committed by the state. The remaining $4.5 million will be supported by Nicholls State University.

The culinary program at Nicholls, established in 1995, currently has more than 300 students, according to its website.

The new building is expected to open within the next year.

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