Learning by doing. It’s the approach East Central College Culinary Arts Instructor Mike Palazzola uses with students every day.
“Last year, there was something missing from our culinary classrooms,” Palazzola said, “We needed real life experiences in real time.”
The award-winning chef, along with former culinary instructor Ted Hirschi, came up with a solution – The Restaurant at Prairie Dell. Managed by the East Central College Culinary Arts Program, the limited-run restaurant gave students hands-on experience at running an establishment of their own.
“Students were responsible for scheduling, production, staff management and the handling of revenue,” Palazzola explained. “It was a great opportunity for them to learn processes and standards they will encounter in the hospitality industry.”
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said student Emily Goree. “You got to see your own culinary concepts come to life, in and out of the kitchen. It made all the hard work worth it.”
On March 27, it will open its doors once again to the public. The Restaurant at Prairie Dell will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until April 26. Reservations are required and can be made through firstname.lastname@example.org. Seating starts at 11 a.m. and goes in 15 minute intervals until noon.
New this year, along with cash and check, patrons can pay using a credit card.
“Our menu has something for everyone,” said Palazzola, “and our prices are meant to only cover the cost of the food. It’s the cheapest gourmet meal you’ll ever have!”
The Restaurant at Prairie Dell is located at the East Central College Training Center, 1964 Prairie Dell Road in Union.