The restaurant is filled with both the sounds of chefs calling out orders to one another and the smells of Italian food. It looks and feels like the local Olive Garden, the destination of community families every weekend. But this is no Olive Garden. It is no franchised part of a nationwide chain. It’s Restaurant Management, East’s culinary and preparatory elective program that tasks young student chefs with hosting an entire restaurant experience for students, staff, and even family.
The way to someone’s heart …
Beyond the plates of savory food, the most important ingredient here is teamwork, vital to this process of preparing for and hosting the restaurant experience, as the students work together to run their very own dining hall.
“Working together and communication really helps when it’s time for the actual restaurant instead of working by yourself on things because without it, running the restaurant can be much harder,” Ancheta said.
The class takes part in large-scale catering and hosting various restaurants at school throughout the year. Last month, they held a restaurant with an Italian theme. This week’s restaurant is Polish-themed.
“I like making people happy and all of the food that is going out at this restaurant is to do that. The bruschetta is my favorite thing we’ve made because it’s a family recipe and it turned out nice,” senior Marie Krapez said.
Cooking, plating, and serving dishes are all heavy components during Restaurant Management despite the management name which confuses the students.
“This class has been focused on the more fine dining aspect of restaurants, so [the most important thing I’ve learned] is definitely about plating,” senior Jack Kleronomos said.
The restaurant had a menu that included various dishes and options. There were options such as bruschetta and pasta with marinara and meatballs as entrees. Then the dessert option was tiramisu. All of these dishes were made through a collaborative effort from all of the students.
There is no “I” in “food”
“The class communicates in a very timely manner so that everything and everyone can get the restaurant to run smoothly and efficiently,” junior Kristian Ancheta said.
Junior Olivia Hernandez added that communication between the different stations is key to a successful experience.
These stations gave students jobs where some students would take the pasta and add sauce and meatballs, while others would take and plate the food. There was then other stations for working on the dessert, and for working on the appetizers and to-go orders. All of these stations though flowed from one to another to make all of the food taste good and be done in a timely fashion.
“Working as a team is vital when we do restaurant management. They have to work as a team, they have to work well together, and they have to work well under pressure because we only have periods five and six to get all of the food out and serve the guests,” teacher Suzanne Van der merwe said.
The last station is where the management part most comes in. As students had to manage the guest’s experience through seating, serving, and collecting bills. The students had to work together to make sure their tables and sections were enjoying their time dining during their meals.
“[The most important thing I’ve learned] is teamwork. One more person you don’t have makes everyone’s life harder,” senior Isac Vilches said.
As the restaurant came to an end, the students took valuable learning experience for later on in life and in potential careers. They took the knowledge that can be used to help them increase their skills in cooking and in managing a dining experience, and that is why they signed up for the class.
I’m going to culinary school so I knew I was going to take this class and that it could help,” Vilches said.
Krapez said that everything that she has learned so far is going to help her pursue something with cooking in college and in a future career. How the class goes through the rest of the year will be very important, as the students can continue to learn more information that can help them with future restaurants.
“Once they move over to restaurant two they are so familiar with how everything is done that they have full confidence to actually plan and manage the restaurant themselves,” Van der merwe said.
This planning is already starting to take effect as the students plan for the next restaurant coming up later this week, which will have a Polish theme.
“Our plan is to prepare all of the veggies and make a lot of the stocks and soups ahead of time so that the day of the restaurant we can just reheat and serve to all of the guests attending,” Ancheta said.
Students can attend and purchase everything that the class prepares at the next restaurant that will take place on Thursday, November 29th.
Ben Schmidt is a sports writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl