“This is a training scenario. I, the professor, don’t run the restaurant and drag the students behind me,” said Mark D’Alessandro, a visiting associate professor.
The program’s public lunch and dinner set-up includes an appetizer or salad, entree, dessert, a glass of wine and coffee. The cost is $18.
The yearly program has gained a following. “The public loves it. The feedback is always great. We have regulars who try to come twice three time a semester,” D’Alessandro said.
For there Distinguished Visiting Chef program, students at Johnson and Wales University in North Miami are paired with accomplished chefs from around the country.
Students work in the front of the house preparing tables, greeting guests and serving food. And in the back of the house, the kitchen, students prep and execute dishes for the likes of top chefs and Johnson and Wales alumni such as Kevin Sbraga.
“It’s putting theory into practice. We try to give the students as much exposure to working in real life operations,” said Bruce Ozga, dean of culinary education.
Those experiences leave lasting memories and lessons for the students.
Ruben Santa-Robles, a junior in the program, assisted Sbraga in the kitchen when he visited campus last year.
“He was a very gentle person. Not everyone is gentle in the kitchen,” Santa-Robles, 22, said. “I learned mostly how he prepares a plate. Every plate has something crunchy, something sweet, something spicy, it’s like an explosion of flavor.”
Santa-Robles, a North Miami resident, said he loves getting direction from the visiting chefs, which he applies to enhance his skills in the kitchen.
“We cook whatever is going out in the dining room.,” he said. “The chef is making sure everything is on point.”