I worked with COC this past year and heard all about their culinary arts program and their new facility. However, it wasn’t until today that I was able to stop by for lunch, along with Todd Wilson. What awaited us was a multi course lunch at the bargain price of only $20 payable upfront via cash or check.
The building is stunning and located toward the back of campus and is most easily accessible from Lots 13, 14, or 15. You will need a pass to park, but you can buy one from the kiosks ($3), or have passes emailed to you after confirming your reservation. I parked in lot 13 right next to the parking kiosk and it was an easy walk down to lunch.
It is very much like a live classroom, where students “work” as part of their learning experience. The students cooking in a real live kitchen preparing the meal are all currently “in class” and the waiters and hosts are also “in class” which is really cool to see. Some of the students are more nervous than others, but is is clear that they all love what they are doing and they are doing some real hands on learning.
Each place setting includes a menu, where some items are chef’s choice, and others allow you to make a selection between two choices. The menu starts off like any standard tasting menu with an amuse bouche. We got chips and spicy hummus to start.
It was followed by a chilled soup.
Since I was lunching with Todd, we each made different choices so we could try everything. I got the chicken…
and he got pork dish.
Next was the garden course.
Todd got the strawberry salad.
This was Todd’s dish.
Dessert was chef’s choice…
Overall, it was a fine culinary school lunch, although we felt it leaned more toward banquet style than fine dining. As far as the lack of flavor and seasoning on certain dishes, these students are still learning, so we can’t fault them for that. Everyone looked genuinely happy to be in “class” today, and I look forward to coming back every few weeks to see the progression. At the end of the meal they ask you to fill out a comment card so they can get feedback.
As we were leaving we checked out the outdoor oven which they use to make pizza. And it was nice to see that they have their very own herb garden to source from.
Lunch is by reservation only and you can fill out the request by clicking this link. They will call you to confirm and offer you a parking pass. Overall, it is a nice experience and it doesn’t get much more local than this. Even Chancellor Dianne Van Hook eats lunch at COC Culinary Arts Cafe!