Wednesday was an important day in the nearly 30-year history of Hampton Winds, a teaching restaurant attached to Northampton Community College’s culinary arts program that was closed for nearly 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic and an extensive renovation project.
NCC administration members as well as culinary arts program faculty and students gathered in the lobby of the school’s Alumni Center to celebrate the reopening of the redesigned eatery with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception featuring the delicious fruits of students’ labors.
“NCC has always had its finger on the pulse of industry,” commented Dean of Business & Technology Dr. Denise Francois-Seeney, who said “enhanced safety measures (and) more to-go options” are among the pandemic-driven changes Hampton Winds patrons will notice when they return.
Culinary Arts Program Director Francine Marz said the updates to the restaurant’s sky-lit dining room were designed to impress customers, whether they are returning or first-time guests at the eatery.
“The idea behind the renovation was to have people–as soon as they walk in the door–be blown away,” she said.
The Hampton Winds kitchen was also renovated with grant funding, ensuring that NCC culinary arts students have access to state-of-the-art technology; upgrades which the school said will improve their career pathways and lead to higher-paying positions.
Marz cited valuable, unique experiences outside the kitchen and dining room at Hampton Winds that have benefited NCC culinarians, including the school’s annual Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival at Wind Creek Casino, the opportunity to study with world-renowned chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans and a cooking competition in China, in which a Saucon Valley resident and NCC culinary arts student participated.
“There are so many culinary opportunities that are offered (students at NCC),” she said.
Attesting to that was student Nicole Bittner, who told attendees at the grand reopening that the opportunity to train on the prep line in the Hampton Winds kitchen has been an important part of an NCC education that has prepared her for a food industry career.
In spite of the interruption to her studies caused by COVID-19, Bittner said she was excited to recently return to the kitchen after “an entire year of getting rusty” and discover that her knives were “still sharp.”
Bittner, Marz and Francois-Seeney were joined by NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson, who called Wednesday “a big and exciting day for Northampton,” for the ribbon-cutting.
After that, guests had the opportunity to tour the renovated kitchen–in which dozens of culinary students were busy at work–and to feast on passed hors d’oeuvres in the dining room, which is now flanked by a patio area that has been outfitted for al fresco dining.
Hampton Winds hours change seasonally according to the school’s calendar. During the summer, the restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and for dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.
The new Hampton Winds Express counter is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, for the remainder of the summer. For additional information about hours throughout August and into the fall, view the restaurant’s online calendar.
Current menus as well as pricing information may be found on the NCC website, which includes a link to a reservation form on OpenTable. Reservations, which are required, may also be made by calling 610-861-4549 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Hampton Winds is BYOB (beer and wine only), and appropriate dress is business casual.
Most major credit cards are accepted.
Hampton Winds is located on the NCC campus at 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem.
For updates about hours, specials and more, follow the restaurant on Facebook.