Students enrolled in the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Department’s (CAHM) dining room management class create edible masterpieces at OTC’s Scallions restaurant each semester. This year is only slightly different – the class, instead, takes place at Aviary Café, located at Farmers Park on Republic Road.
OTC saw a unique opportunity arise when a fluke in scheduling allowed only a limited number of students to enter the course. The small class size enabled the department to tailor the class to each student’s abilities, and the idea of partnering with a local business was born.
“We reached out to Aviary Café and they accepted us with open arms,” said Lisa Gardner, CAHM department chair.
The partnership has shown to be a good fit for the class.
Aviary Café’s menu is a combination of sweet and savory crepes, along with classic bistro items. Gardner explained the restaurant is popular with millennials and technology-driven. Restaurant-goers can submit reservations online and the décor is like, “walking into Pinterest.”
The partnership takes place on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with students performing in a variety of roles including acting as servers, hosts, managers, dishwashers and food preparation workers. Students have also been taught how to spin crepes, and assemble sandwiches and entrees.
Kevin Mueller, executive chef at Aviary Café, is a graduate of the OTC program and is a large element in the students’ learning experience.
“Chef Kevin is very talented,” said Gardner. “He inspires the students and has openly spoken about his creative process. He is a great chef to learn from.”
According to Gardner, the partnership has created a more realistic learning environment for the students.
“Scallions serves a weekly menu, whereas Aviary Café’s menu stays fairly consistent. This poses greater realism toward inventory and waste management,” explained Gardner. “The café’s open kitchen also allows the students to interact with customers and see how an operation truly runs.”
Though the partnership with Aviary Café has shown much success, Scallions will be back in business this upcoming spring semester.
Don’t loaf around. Make sure to visit Aviary Café and order a crepe handspun by an OTC student before the semester ends.