Life at The Bistro

Avis AllenBy Avis Allen.

One might think that having a Culinary Institute with a Bistro restaurant on their college campus would be an easy task to run every day.  In the beginning of the culinary program, I thought that the Chef would control the whole kitchen and dictate to the students what to make and how to prepare it.         As a culinary student who is currently in Culinary Skills Development class, I have now learned otherwise.

It takes many Chefs, classes, and students to make the Bistro run smoothly. The class begins at 8 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m., Monday through Friday for a four-week block, with five separate classes all doing the same routine from the beginning to the end.

Chef Chris Palar is the head instructor for Culinary Skills Development and has been for ten years.  Chef Trevor Feuerhelm is the newest member of the Bistro team, teaching the Tuesday and Wednesday nights 5 p.m. to 7p.m.

Chef Julie Drew, Chef Susan Madorsky, and Chef Ryan Binney lead their Advance Baking students to create the desserts for the bistro.

Chef Chris Prine instructs the front-of-the-house learning for Dining Room Service; setting the tables, polishing silverware and glasses, preparing coffee and teas, and the experience of waiting on tables with customers.

Dana Anderson, Lab Coordinator, helps with the ordering of supplies and special trips to the store, when the students come up with something that is needed in a hurry.

Chef Palar runs a tight ship in the back-of-the-house but it is consistent for all who pass through his threshold. He shows no favoritism, as he makes us all feel we are his favorites.  If one does their job, is courteous, apply what has been learned, asks questions, work as a team, and continue to listen and learn, and all will be great in the kitchen.  In this lab class, we are to learn the real world experience of working in a restaurant with paying customers.  We learn how to work with others to meet the high quality and standards people want when they go to a restaurant.

Chef Palar does not tell us what we are cooking, what he wants it to taste like, or how our stations are supposed to be set up.  This is a learning class, so we learn by doing.  Instead, Chef is there for our questions. He makes us think, and usually we end up answering our own questions.  He sends us to the team for the answers—“What do they think?” or “Did you ask someone else to taste?”  Together we work it all out.

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