Wednesday, September 23, 2020

CVTC Culinary Students Return to Their Kitchen

620 West Restaurant open for takeout


Eau Claire, WI – For months, the two-year-old, state-of-the-art culinary kitchen at Chippewa Valley Technical College lay mostly dormant. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the spring semester students did not return, learning from home instead. For the fall semester, they are back in the kitchen where they belong, with proper health and safety precautions.

People can check out the results for themselves. The 620 West restaurant operated by the Culinary Management program is open once again, with a lunch menu on Wednesdays and a culinary tour of different nations and regions on Fridays and Mondays.

“There are students in the kitchen every day of the week,” said Chef Instructor Kevin Brown. “Chef (Jonathan) Fike had students here starting on Monday, Sept. 21. We started the 620 To Go lunch menu restaurant on Sept. 16.”

For the Wednesday lunches, students are preparing soups and salads, sandwiches and tacos, shareables, pizzas, drinks and desserts, some with exotic items like Tacos de Birria, Roast Beef Panini and Jicama Coleslaw, along with many other offerings. See full menus and additional information at 620WestEC.com.

The restaurant is open for takeout only, with curbside service from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Wednesday lunches. Place an order by calling 715-833-6414 after 8 a.m. and come at the arranged time for curbside pickup.

The culinary tour started with the Cuisine of New England and moved on to the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Cuisine of The South is set for Oct. 2. These are also pick-up, with ordering right at the curbside pick-up location, with a student bringing the order out to the car. Hours are 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The pick-up location for both restaurants is in the RCU Visitor’s lot on the southeast side of the Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. Directions are online.

Brown noted that it wasn’t as if the students were missing out on their culinary education while kept out of their kitchen. He again thanked Midwest Meals of Eau Claire, which formed a partnership with CVTC that enabled students to prepare pre-packaged meals at home. But students say getting back in their kitchen to work under the direct supervision of CVTC’s chef instructors is better.

“It’s great to be back and experience the whole kitchen atmosphere,” said student Britney Fayerweather of Pepin. “We have the chefs right here teaching us now. You don’t get that learning from home.”

“They did a good job teaching us from home with their work with Midwest Meals,” said Tim Campbell of Eau Claire. “But we needed to come back here. It’s so nice to use the facility and see the instructors. It makes for a whole new experience.”

Brown said the COVID-19 situation has led to changes that should benefit the students. His fundamentals class with first-year students and Fike’s restaurant class with advanced students work together now. Students from different classes worked out details like packaging for carry-outs, the disposable wares, marketing, signs in the parking lot and the pick-up process.

“The students have done a lot of things they might not have ordinarily done if not for COVID-19,” Brown said.

Brown added that they will soon have ready a way for people to choose their payment method on their phones by scanning a QR code.

Of course, some things in the kitchen are different than they were before the pandemic hit. Besides their required white uniforms and chef hats, students must wear masks, and they try to observe social distancing as much as possible in what is sometimes a busy kitchen.

 
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