Culinary Arts Offers Gourmet Food at Cut-Rate Prices

Jennifer Tinoco

The Culinary Arts Department offers three-course meals for just $5. Not 10, not eight, but five dollars! Every Wednesday healthy and culturally diverse food is offered for little more than a pack of cigarettes, or a gallon and a half of gas.

“The meals are top quality and are cooked by my Culinary Arts 112 class,” said professor and chef Andrew Feldman.

Culinary Arts 112 helps students develop advanced skills for food preparation and on-the-job training in a food establishment.

The waiters and hosts are students enrolled in the Culinary Arts 207 class, taught by Professor Anthony Battaglia, which shows students how to conduct food sales and services including dining room management.

The program dates back to the mid-1990s where Amy Wang, a former professor and chef here, started the restaurant in a chemistry lab before Los Robles was built.

Today the culinary arts department is located in Los Robles, where the luncheon is held every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m.

“Although the restaurant accommodates 80 people, it is very important to make reservations by Monday because we sell out fast,” said instructional aide Andrew Ayers.

“So far we have had Soul Food, Argentinian, Native American, Californian and Mediterranean style menus this semester,” said Ayers.

“This [Mediterranean] meal has so much food, they should be charging $20 a plate,” said Culinary Arts Professor Michael Lao.
The meal had three main entrees to choose from, including Moroccan Chicken Tagine, Paella: seafood, chicken and sausage, and a vegetarian Moussaka.

President Audre Levy may also be seen at the restaurant dining with students and faculty members, sharing and listening to opinions about improving the campus.

“It’s a great three-course meal each time,” said Feldman. “You cannot get that at McDonald’s for five bucks.”

Most of the money the restaurant makes is used to repair or to replace worn out equipment. The department also saves that money to give out five to six scholarships each year to students.

This week’s menu offered an array of Tex-Mex dishes, and Feldman said that they provide copies of the recipes.

The students who participate are graded while the restaurant is in session. Students get to practice their cooking or dining services nine to 10 times per semester. Due to spring break and other holidays some semesters may have more or less restaurants.

“It is really great practice for all students who want to advance into a culinary arts career,” said Feldman.

“With the food network, culinary arts has grown a lot. The demand for jobs is increasing for both males and females and I definitely think that the demand has helped our program here on campus grow. Our classes fill up quickly each semester,” added Feldman.

“Cooking your own food is very economical. Obesity is very common in our country and very dangerous.”

“Learning how to cook your own meals may not only relieve your wallet or advance your career in the food industry, but it will benefit a better health instead of eating out fast food,” explained Feldman.

The latest technology is also used inside the classrooms. There are new tools invented every year to better prepare foods and “we try to use those so that our students are prepared for the modern world of cooking when they look for a job,” said Feldman.

The culinary arts department also offers various nutrition and weight-control classes that may also be transferable. For information, Feldman may be reached at (818) 240-1000, ext. 3256.

Wednesday’s menu, called “Florribbean,” will include yucca frita with sunshine aioli, pan cubano, jerk chicken with pineapple chutney and rice, coconut curry mahi mahi, and a dessert of coconut rice pudding with tropical fruit. For reservations, call Vera Paragouteva at (818) 240-1000, ext. 3210.