Culinary arts students get a taste of hospitality



Marlborough – Students in the Culinary Arts/Hospitality and Tourism Program at the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRTHS) are learning more than how to create palatable dishes. The students are gaining hands-on experience in the hospitality business by operating their own restaurant, open to the public, in the school's Epicurean Room.

Under the direction of chef Cliff Giovannucci, an AVRTHS graduate; chef Lou Trudeau, also an AVRTHS graduate; chef Margo Wilson; and hospitality instructor Kerry Gallacher, the students learn the essentials of food preparation, health and safety requirements, service and hospitality standards, and the business side of restaurant operation.

The students work on a rotating schedule, preparing entrees in the kitchen, creating desserts in the bakeshop and serving patrons in the dining area. The program also instructs students about areas of the tourist industry – hotels, gaming/casinos, cruise lines and airlines.

Students graduate from the four-year program with a certificate in Culinary Arts/ Hospitality and Tourism. They also participate in the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation ServSafe Food Safety Program and receive a nationally recognized certificate upon completion. The school has an articulation agreement with some higher institutions that allows students to receive college credits for courses completed at AVRTHS.

In addition to exploring culinary techniques, the program meets the Massachusetts Department of Education curriculum requirements for students in grades nine through 12. The program goal is to help students become responsible, competent and productive members of society by incorporating academics, mathematics, English and science with training in the field. Students graduate from the program prepared to seek employment, pursue higher education or open their own food-related establishment.

Gallacher feels that the program teaches students a variety of valuable skills.

"They learn teamwork skills and how to work with others," Gallacher said. "It creates a huge sense of responsibility, interacting with the public, and learning social skills. The management skills can be used no matter where they go."

Epicurean Room customers enjoy the restaurant's quality cuisine and bargain prices. Kristina McAdams, of Cambridge, regularly travels to Marlborough for business and makes a point to stop by for lunch.

"It's the perfect place for me to take clients to lunch," she said. "I was afraid they'd think I was being cheap, but then they taste the food and see the size of the servings and they know I'm not cheap, I'm smart!"

The restaurant off ers an a la carte lunch menu with several entrée options, two or three salads, two daily soups and five or six dessert choices. A value-priced buff et is off ered every Thursday and includes salad bar, fruits and vegetables, soups, rolls, several entrée choices, desserts and a beverage, all for only $7.88.

The Epicurean Room restaurant is open Tuesday through

" Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is located at AVRTHS at 215 Fitchburg St. in Marlborough. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 508-485-9430, ext. 119. The restaurant is also available for large groups, meetings or functions for up to 90 people. For planning assistance, call Gallacher.