If the words “college dining” conjure memories of starchy, fried cafeteria fare, the delicious options available in new Culinary and Hospitality Center at the College of DuPage’s Glen Ellyn campus, might just change your mind.
In the mood for Classic French cuisine, such as a beef filet with Madeira sauce and seasonal mushrooms, potato gratin, paired with the perfect red wine? Or maybe a more casual lunch of ancho-crusted boneless pork chops, hash browns and Texas caviar?
Wheat Café and Waterleaf, the student-operated casual and fine dining restaurants that are part of the college’s Culinary Arts program, offer that and more.
For local residents, the restaurants are a great option for gourmet dining at an economical price. For the students, they offer an opportunity to put the skills mastered in the classroom to work in a real world setting.
“While the students in our service class are working with customers and handling all of the details such as pulling out a customer’s chair, addressing complaints and working with the kitchen, our food preparation students are working on preparation, cooking technique, and multi-tasking. But both are teams and must work together,” said Tim Meyers, Co-Coordinator of Culinary and Baking Arts.
Serving American regional cuisine, the 50-seat Wheat Café offers a three-course meal consisting of soup, salad and entree, for $15 per person. Diners may choose from three entrée selections and menus change three times during the semester. Summer hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, with seatings at 11:15, 11:30 and 11:45. No dinners are served during the summer.
The Waterleaf Restaurant is open during the fall and spring semesters, Monday and Tuesday nights, serving Classic Cuisine and International menus, which also change during the semester.
Current menus, restaurant hours, cost, reservations and more, are available by calling 630.942.2284, or visiting http://www.cod.edu/programs/culinary/dine.aspx . Reservations can also be made at OpenTable.com
In addition to the restaurants, the new 66,000 square foot Culinary and Hospitality Center contains the Waters Edge Inn, a six-room boutique hotel staffed by Hospitality students, a bakery and chocolate room, meeting and event rooms available to the public, a culinary market, state of the art skills kitchen, and an amphitheater equipped with lighted tabletops that allow students to evaluate the color and quality of wine.
“The philosophy of the program is to give a foundation of skills so that students can prepare to enter the culinary industry,” said Meyers, who has been with the college for nine years. He previously worked as a chef for a hotel company, as a food and beverage director for Marshall Fields, and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
COD’s Culinary and Hospitality Management program offers seven degrees under it’s auspice, with combined enrollment of about 1,600 students, which makes it the largest technical program on the COD campus.
Culinary and Hospitality students include both recent high school grads, and adults seeking a new career. “I’d say about sixty percent are right out of high school, and forty percent are career changers. It’s nice because we have 18-year-olds and 50-year-olds working side-by-side,” Meyers said. Evening and weekend classes are also available.
Many students go directly into the workforce upon completing their Associates degrees, Meyers said, but those interested in completing a Bachelor’s degree can transfer to a four-year program, including the 3+1 program offered though an agreement with Roosevelt University.
Students attend three years of College of DuPage at COD pricing, and the fourth year at Roosevelt University at Roosevelt pricing. The 3+1 program, allows students who have completed an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management, Hospitality Management or Meeting and Event Planning, to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management through Roosevelt at a lower cost than a traditional program.
“We’ve had very positive response and it’s a great way for students to complete a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management,” Meyers said.
The new Culinology and Food Science degree blends culinary arts with science and technology, preparing students for careers as research chefs, flavor developers, in the food processing and manufacturing fields, and in government research and regulation.
“We just launched the program in January. With my background at the USDA and with the number of manufacturers in the Chicago area, I can see that there’s a bi g need for this type of training. We’ve been having a very positive response with it,” he said.