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KNOXVILLE — A caterer, college student, high school teacher, lawyer and physical therapist are among the graduates of the inaugural class of the Culinary Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

A graduation ceremony for the 16 members of the first class will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, at the UT Visitors Center. The graduates will don their white chef hats and white coats for the ceremony.

Appealing to food service professionals and food hobbyists alike, the institute is a 10-month intensive certificate program offered by the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. Topics include safety and sanitation, the art of tasting, knife skills and even ice sculpting.

Students who complete the program receive a credentialing Certificate in Culinary Arts and the Servsafe Foodservice Sanitation certification, which is valid for five years.

The founding director of the Culinary Institute is John Antun, assistant professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism management. Antun, a certified executive chef with a doctorate in higher education administration, has spent more than 40 years in the hospitality industry and opened and operated four successful restaurants in the New York metropolitan area.

“The opening of the Culinary Institute has been very rewarding. So far the classes have been an interesting mix of people from different backgrounds with varying career and personal goals,” Antun said.

“What is unique about this institute is the classes are held at night and every instructor is a working chef who teaches the newest and most recent techniques and ideas,” he said.

Andrika Langham, who owns 622 Catering with her husband and is the mother of two young children, enrolled in the Culinary Institute to improve her cooking skills.

“I already knew how to cater, but I was looking for the extra edge of the art of food,” she said.

Langham complimented Antun for his willingness to be a mentor to his students. Outside of class, she went to him for help in preparing a catered meal of beef medallions.

“He’s there with you every step of the way, guiding you along the process,” she said.

Using what she learned at the Culinary Institute, Langham believes she has the skills to open a new restaurant in the future.

Since the first class began last October, the institute’s enrollment has been full.

Graduation for the second class that began last November will be held on Sept. 18.

To enroll, contact Antun at (865) 974-3732. For more information, visit the Culinary Institute’s Web site at


Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,