ROCKLAND—For years, the Mid-Coast School of Technology’s students in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry programs have been putting on a World Café, a hands-on, real life execution of their culinary skills for the public in the form of publicly offered breakfasts and lunches. This winter into spring, they have continued this tradition, but with a few changes.
Whereas in the old building, they had a converted classroom serving as their dining area, MCST’s newly built school features a 118-seat café called Osprey Nest, anchored by two enormous classroom-kitchens, one for culinary arts, and one for baking. On the café side, the roomy restaurant’s oversized windows allow in plenty of light. Anchoring the walls are carving, serving and dessert stations.
What’s also different is the service. As we’ve previously covered in a stories on the World Cafe, the themed a la carte menus were offered four days a week for $5. Now, consolidating their time, the school only offers the World Café each Thursday and Friday from 12 to 1 p.m.
And instead of individually served plates, Café patrons can partake of a buffet of about 10 entrees, side dishes and salads. The price also includes dessert, and beverage all made the Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry students.
“We wanted to switch from a la carte to buffet because it gives students more control over the menu and they can cook more dishes within that cuisine,” said Baking and Pastry instructor Shelby Stevens. “This way it’s not as stressful.”
So far, it’s been a good change for the students. “They’re able to pull off quite a bit and step up to the challenges,” said Stevens. “They love the new kitchens and café and are really excited to be working with new equipment and the new space. As far as our programs, I know both of my classes have doubled and I think Charles Butler’s [Culinary Arts instructor] have as well.”
The World Café has been a loose-kept secret for a long time, but now, it’ll be even harder to get in.
“We had nearly 95 people all within an hour last week,” said Stevens. “The students are doing great. They’re not only making the food, but they’re out there, as serving staff, and they’re proud of what they’re serving.”
Lee Fox, a MCST employee who was manning the host station, mentioned that with all of their real-life cooking and serving experiences, many area restaurants turn to MCST in search of employees. “They call us because they know our students have just as much training as someone who has been in the restaurant industry for years,” said Fox.
“I know a employee of Primo came in for lunch last week and told us if any of our students wanted to apply for a job to come on over,” said Stevens.
First time visitor Mark Tootill of S. Thomaston paid his $10 at the host stand. “The food was fantastic,” he said. “There were a lot of dishes I didn’t know, but they were very good.
Last week was supposed to be Southern Week, but due to the weather, the school closed both days. “We knew the snow storms might impact our serving days, so we held back on doing most of the prep work,” said Stevens. “We’ll just move onto the next culinary week, which is New England cuisine.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com