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Today is October 24, 2021

Test kitchen benefits Ole Miss students

By Mary Stanton Knight

Thanks to a continuing partnership with Viking Range, students in the University of Mississippi Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management will enjoy a new test kitchen to perfect their skills, while preparing for careers in one of Mississippi’s leading sectors: the tourism and hospitality industry.

Viking Range, manufacturer of professional-grade ranges for homes, recently offered its product for use in the new NHM training kitchen at the university’s South Oxford Campus, as well as in the department’s existing campus classrooms in Lenoir Hall.

“The new ranges will allow students to train on industry-leading products manufactured here in Mississippi,” said Melinda Valliant, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.

By helping offset the costs, this partnership provided state-of-the-art equipment valued at nearly $150,000, supporting hands-on learning for students. Training future hospitality professionals is important to support the strong culinary and tourism industries, both of which play a large part in Mississippi’s economy, and is among ways UM supports economic growth in the state, Valliant said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the fantastic professionals at Viking for years to come.”

Enhancing opportunities for student experiences is a priority, said Peter Grandjean, dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

“I join department chair, Dr. Melinda Valliant, and the Nutrition and Hospitality Management faculty and students in celebrating the arrival of brand-new Viking ranges,” Grandjean said.

Despite COVID-19 challenges, Viking maintained its commitment to host an intern from NHM, who spent the summer working in Greenwood at the Viking-owned Alluvian Hotel and Spa.

“Having this opportunity with The Alluvian Hotel and Spa has helped give me great experience in the industry,” said Caitland Jones, of Cleveland. “It has been very insightful with the inner workings of the organization, along with service to the Greenwood community and beyond.

Beth Tackett, UM alumna and director of human resources at Viking Range, helped initiate discussions with the university about a broader partnership. Kevin Brown, UM alumnus and president of Viking Range, and CFO Jane Moss also have been involved with growing the relationship at Ole Miss through the university’s increased focus on expanding engagement with the industry.

Besides its partnership with the NHM department, Viking Range recruits Ole Miss students in the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the School of Engineering for internships and full-time roles with the company. Classes designed to amplify learning experiences for students also have been conducted at the company’s Greenwood facility.

“We are honored to have our products showcased on campus and available for the NHM students,” Tackett said. “We look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with NHM, CME and the School of Engineering.

“The Viking brand is an American icon, and our Mississippi roots and support of the university are extremely important to us.”

Viking Range was founded in Greenwood in 1987 and acquired by Middleby Corp. in 2012. Besides The Alluvian, which houses Giardina’s Restaurant, the company owns and operates the Viking Cooking School and four manufacturing facilities.


Mary Stanton Knight is a University of Mississippi communications specialist.

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