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The Next Generation of Chefs Will Come from Auburn University

Auburn's School of Hospitality Management has moved into a new home that many call "world class." With an exclusive restaurant, Auburn's "most elevated hotel," and a food hall and green space that lure thousands of students each day, the accolades are pouring in.

The vision was hatched and the dreaming began more than 13 years ago. Plans got off the drawing board and into high gear when the Rane family made a sizable donation toward the project. Now, $110 million later, a gleaming, 6-story, 155,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Thach Avenue and South College Street is a reality. The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center opened in the fall of 2022 and is a significant crown jewel for the university.

Between The Laurel Hotel & Spa, Hey Day Market, 1856 Culinary Residence, and state-of-the-art classroom facilities and teaching kitchens, students who want to get degrees in anything having to do with the hospitality industry can come away with the best possible hands-on experience.


The Laurel Hotel & Spa is an exclusive, boutique property offering 16 rooms, 10 suites, and 6 residences. Guests are pampered from check-in to check-out. The hotel is located within easy walking distance of Toomer's Corner, Jordan-Hare Stadium, or Neville Arena.

In addition to luxurious room amenities, guests receive complimentary breakfast, lunch, snacks, and evening desserts served in The Library.

I hope my Silver Fox is reading this because an anniversary weekend here would be a wonderful treat.


Hey Day Market, located on South College Street between Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center and The Laurel Hotel, is designed with students and casual diners in mind. It features a large food hall, green space for outdoor dining/gathering, coffee roasting, and a number of international food vendors.

Whether you are craving burgers, tacos, pizza, Maylasian noodles, Cuban sandwiches, gelato, smoothies, poke, or ramen, Hey Day Market has you covered.


1856 Culinary Residence is the teaching restaurant for the culinary school. The name recognizes the year Auburn was founded. Seating allows for 48 guests at a time to be served who will be treated to the best possible attention and courtesy.

Students in training are instructed by a Chef-in-Residence who will rotate annually. That means that students will have the opportunity to learn from and observe four different highly-skilled chefs during their years in the school.

Dinner consists of a $95-per-person, seven- to nine-course tasting menu that changes every two weeks. The lunch menu is a la carte and much more affordable. That is when Steve and I enjoyed a meal recently.

We started with the Tarte Flambee for an appetizer. Bacon, caramelized onion, and fromage blanc on housemade flatbread.

We shared the 1856 Breakfast Smashburger and the Fried Fish Sandwich for entrees.

For dessert, we shared the Yuzu Meringue Tart. A yuzu is a citrus fruit that tastes like a combination of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Look at the details on this dessert plate. That lemon half is actually an edible confection, and those tiny Hershey's kiss-like creations are meringues. It was ALMOST too pretty to eat..... but not quite.


The Rooftop Terrace at the Culinary Science Center provides amazing views of downtown Auburn, Samford Hall, and Jordan-Hare Stadium. This lovely garden is where flowers for the hotel, plus herbs and vegetables for the restaurant are grown. It is also a nice place to enjoy a beverage. Scheduled tours are offered, as well as free opportunities to go up and just take a brief look.

As both a foodie and a proud Auburn alum, I am extremely glad about this new opportunity for Auburn students and expect it to produce many famous chefs in the years to come.

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