'The food part comes easy'

'The food part comes easy' »Play Video
Students in the culinary arts program work to prepare one of the three Prix Fixe Dinners, not only to showcase their skills, but to get feedback from the public. Part of the grade in this class is based upon what the public thinks of the food they prepare.

WINCHESTER, Ore. -- Students from the Umpqua Community College culinary program are hard at work preparing their final projects, and this year's work is too tasty to miss.

Every year, culinary students put on several dinners with pre-determined menus. The students run every part of the meal. They plan the menu, make all of the food and market the event.

Instructors say that it gives them a chance to be a part of a high-end culinary production.

Chris Van Dyke, the Director of Culinary Arts, told KPIC News how the dinners fit in to the program as a whole. "The Prix Fixe Dinner is one of the different ways that I try to introduce the student to the customer," he said. "Working in culinary arts, you're cooking in a restaurant, you're actually cooking for people."

"I've developed a program that has different interfaces with the customer," said Van Dyke.

He says that students don't just learn how to hold a knife, but how to operate in a restaurant environment.

One student says that the food side of the restaurant business is the easy part, but he hopes to learn more about what goes on inside a restaurant. "The food part comes easy," said Jack Meier. "Trying to get other people motivated to get the food out the way you want it, that's the hard part."

Meier hopes to take what he's learned in the culinary program and become a head chef at a restaurant.

Kyrie Mahnke, another student, said that she had grown up cooking, but wanted to learn the professional side of it. "I wanted to just develop my skills, get a better base and more knowledge of where that could lead."

Now, Mahnke is working with a group of nine other students to produce a five course Hawaiian catered dinner.

At all of the Prix Fixe dinners, the diners gets the chance to judge the meals. Those comments will factor into the students' grades.

Van Dyke says that it gives students the chance to finally take the reigns.

If you are interested in testing the best that the culinary school has to offer, you can still buy tickets for the next two dinners by visiting the UCC Web site.