Delicious Meals Served by Culinary Arts Department

Amy Hirsch

Those who have grown weary of fast food should be aware of an elegant restaurant option located right on our campus.

Nearly every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m., during the fall and spring semesters, students of the Culinary Arts Department present a multi-course meal to approximately 80 guests.

With a changing theme from week to week, international and regional American dishes are presented in a stylish setting to rival a full-service fine restaurant.

A recent menu served Nov. 4, in the dining room located in Los Robles 101, featured a “Floribbean” theme. The waiting staff, dressed in style with white shirts and black bow ties, served guests to a background of Caribbean music.

Tables with colorful flower centerpieces were set with formal place settings and silverware.

Guests started with an “amuse bouche” of yucca fritters with aioli and pan cubano.

Appetizers followed, including conch chowder or black-eyed pea salad with smoked pork loin. The entree was a choice of jerk chicken with pineapple chutney, coconut curry red snapper, or stuffed chayote squash. Those with room for dessert were treated to coconut rice pudding with tropical fruit and gingersnap cookies.

In attendance were a mix of students, faculty, staff and administrators. Kim Foong Chong, a math instructor and director of the study abroad program said, “It was a very good meal and the service was great. I enjoyed the dessert.” In addition, a number of members of the Glendale community enjoy coming to the restaurant regularly.

An effort is made to simulate the environment of a true restaurant operation in order to teach the culinary arts students skills needed to work in the industry.

According to Andrew Feldman, chair of the Culinary Arts Department, “The purpose of the program is to give students hands on experience cooking, serving and managing the service operation – to learn by doing, that’s the best way.”

Feldman explained that the weekly restaurant presentation is a joint effort of two classes. Students taking his Culinary Arts 112 class – Advanced Food Preparation, are responsible for planning menus and preparing the food.

Those responsible for setting up and serving are students from Culinary Arts 207 (now also known as the Dining Room Services course of the Hotel and Restaurant Management program) taught by Michael Lao.

In describing the Culinary Arts program, Feldman said, “We are the best kept secret on campus. The program has several different areas – hands on culinary prepares food, we also have restaurant management, hospitality management, dietary service and now we are starting a tourism program.

“Our instructors have experience in the business of areas they teach,” said Feldman. “These connections allow us to keep current, help students find jobs, and make us better teachers if we are working ourselves.”

Student internships are encouraged for hands-on training – up to 144 hours per semester. “We have agreements with many major employers in the Glendale/Pasadena area,” said Feldman. “Typically hotels, hospitals, schools and some larger restaurants; internships must be supervised by faculty members.” Students are often hired directly from internship sites.

The Wednesday restaurant service has grown from primitive beginnings 30 years ago.

According to Feldman, in the early days it was held in the chemistry lab in the administration building, with food cooked over bunsen burners.

The program has increased in popularity to the extent that reservations now fill up quickly. On Thursdays, menus are posted and notices are sent by e-mail to those on an interest list. Usually reservations are filled by Friday for the next Wednesday restaurant, said Feldman.

The cost is a donation of $ 8.50, reduced to $6.50 for students, payable at the door.

Reservations should be made by calling Vera Paragouteva at (818) 240-1000, ext. 3210, or by e-mail at [email protected]