| Posted: Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 06:00 am
Venue booked. Check. Produce ordered. Check.
A perfectly seasoned and cooked medium tenderloin steak with potato pavé, roasted root vegetables and steak jus. Hopefully.
“The steaks will be the toughest to cook,” admitted Eric Moon, a Grade 12 student at Bellerose Composite High and the food production manager for the Bellerose Business Venture team.
“We have to keep them warm without overcooking them and losing moisture,” he said, noting the delicate art and science of coordinating hot and cold dishes with chefs and available equipment for a four-course dinner for 100 people.
The task may sound daunting, but it’s nothing the team hasn’t tackled before.
This will be the sixth family dinner hosted by students in the Food and Business Program, the aim of which is to teach students how to create a profitable business.
Now in its second year, food studies teacher Jason Dabbagh said he can already see a change in the aspiring restaurateurs.
“They’re more confident and they’re demonstrating more ownership, which is exciting to see,” he said. Dabbagh explained there is a fine balance between holding back the reins as a teacher to empower the students and letting them fail so they can learn from their mistakes.
“Some of the highly important jobs I still have to manage a little bit, but I’m trying my best to stay back.”
“It’s definitely more on us now and less on our teacher,” added Moon.
Grade 12 student Dean Ciampanelli takes his job as general manager just as seriously, if not more, than a professional kitchen.
“My job is to keep control of everybody … scheduling, getting the product bought … making sure everybody gets their jobs done,” he said.
Compared to restaurant kitchens he has worked in, Ciampanelli said the three-credit course offers a more gourmet menu, greater professionalism and skill building for life.
From finding local suppliers (D’Arcy’s Meat Market and Edmonton’s Fin’s Seafood), meal prep and devising the gourmet menu, everything is done by the students.
Aside from tours and guest lectures provided by local businesses, a handful of students garner new techniques and inspiration from the professional kitchens they work in part-time. These include River House Grill, Taste of Tuscany and Privada.
On the menu for October’s family dinner is cold smoked salmon, butternut squash soup, tenderloin steak and pumpkin ice cream.
Smoking meat is a new culinary technique the group is focusing on this year.
Dabbagh explained revenues generated from the 2012 family dinners went towards purchasing an ice cream machine. This year they bought four smokers.
The rest of the profits go towards a year-end field trip.
Last year the team went to Calgary and toured the city’s different restaurants via limo.
“We don’t know about this year yet,” said Dabbagh. “They’re talking about Vancouver, but we got a lot of work to do to get there.”
This year the business venture group will get front of house help from the school’s new hospitality program, which teaches students serving and hosting.
The next family dinner will take place Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in Bellerose High’s atrium. Tickets can be purchased on the school’s website for $37.
As of Friday, there were 44 seats remaining.