It’s no secret that many of Dallas’ chefs and restaurateurs are products of El Centro College’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program. People such as Chris Vogeli of III Forks and Janice Provost of Parigi are among alumni of the junior college and constantly recruit students of the program to work for them in their restaurants. To this day, El Centro is producing future generations of great chefs.
And every week, you can get a taste of quality food prepared by current El Centro students.
Every Thursday, from now until May 7, students of the culinary program prepare a three-course meal, which people can enjoy for only $15 — regardless whether they attend El Centro. As part of the American Regional Cuisine class, the students and instructors simulate the front-of-house and back-of-house operations of a restaurant.
“Every week a different student is the executive chef,” says Steve DeShazo, senior director of El Centro College’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality Division. “The student creates the menu, writes the recipes, creates a requisition for the raw ingredients, costs everything out, writes a workflow for the execution and supervises their classmates to get the job done.”
This semester, the weekly lunch series is led by chef Jim Knifong, who previously worked as the terrace cafe chef at the Hilton Anatole hotel.
Each week, the meal offerings will fall under a different type of cuisine. This semester, the series kicked off with Cajun cuisine. In the weeks to come, guests can expect food inspired by the Southwest, Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. Reservations must be made in advance with the meal paid in full.
In a restaurant, no role is more important than another, and DeShazo hopes to reiterate this idea with the students of the culinary program. Over the course of the semester, students will take on the roles of servers, maître d’s, executive chefs and pastry chefs.
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As a student of the American Regional Cuisine course, Zach Hutchinson hopes to familiarize himself with all of the components of restaurant operations as he studies to become a chef.
“The program teaches students every single part of the restaurant,” Hutchinson says. “But this class is more specifically about teaching the students how to do the front-of-the-house operations. With this class, I’m hoping to become a better people person, because that’s an important quality in a chef.”
El Centro College, 801 Main St., Building C (downtown). 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday.