WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Students studying culinary arts at Northcentral Technical College are testing out ways to run their own restaurant. With the help of the campus’ restaurant “Spoons,” students get to make up their own menus and concepts to see how successful they could be in the real world.
“Spoons” is a fully functioning restaurant at NTC where students get to learn the ins and outs of operating one. In the program, culinary instructors teach students both the front and back of the house.
“So we have some students running the dining room, some students running the kitchen and kind of putting that all together. So they kind of see how the whole operation would work,” a culinary instructor at NTC, Chef Travis Teska said.
When school starts up in the fall, culinary instructors at NTC tell students what menu they want them to be used in Spoons. But when the springtime rolls around, students get to tell the culinary instructors what they want on the menus. The menus change depending on how many students are in the class, but each student will present their menu for their designated time.
“It’s an opportunity for the student to test their idea and get feedback. Do people like it, do they not like it? The students are going to have to cost the recipes and run the numbers to make sure ‘hey, we could actually make a living doing this,’ or, ‘hey, that’s a great idea, but there’s no way to make money on it.’ So that’s kind of the final idea here is to give them that opportunity,” Chef Teska said.
Right now, the menu at Spoons is based on a mac and cheese restaurant. But other ideas coming up involve pizza, cajun and creole, and a steakhouse supper club.
When it comes to recipes and the creativity in making a menu, he said it’s not about memorizing recipes, instead, it’s the technique.
“Anybody can follow a recipe, we want our students to get to the point where they don’t need a recipe. So we teach techniques like how to grill, how to roast, how to boil, how to saute, and then the students can start learning their creativity and make those recipes taste however they want.”
Spoons is only open when students are learning about how to run the restaurant, the public is invited to try out the concepts by reservation only.
“We’re a learning laboratory, we want to make sure that we’re kind of controlling how busy we get to make sure that it’s a realistic learning opportunity. And we’re not kind of overstressing the students, we want some stress because the restaurant industry is busy and can be very stressful. But we want to make sure that we’re kind of just keeping our arms around it,” he said.
To make a reservation, call 715-803-1413
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