The Renaissance Room in Lane’s Center Building held its first event — aptly titled the Taste of Lane Dinner — for an excited crowd on Thursday, Feb. 11. The sold-out fundraising dinner of 50 people introduced the public to an extravagant restaurant style setting within the newly remodeled heart of Lane. Sales from tickets made over $1,000, as well as additional revenue from the Taste Of Lane cookbook sales. The money raised at this event went to both outreach programs and the Culinary and Hospitality programs.
The details of the dinner were meticulously thought over — from the student-made menu to the alignment of food on the plate. Every aspect of the dinner was re-worked over the course of a few months in preparation for the dinner event. The students that put the dinner together were delighted by the turnout and the ability to show off their hard work despite the pressure.
“This is our first actual event in the Renaissance Room,” Kristi Reeser, general student manager, said. “We’re bringing awareness to that and we’re raising funds for our student club. The prep has been going for a while and the last two weeks have been pretty heavy. I love doing stuff like this.”
The Culinary Arts program published a cookbook of recipes from students and faculty titled “Taste Of Lane.” The five-course dinner was modeled off of these recipes with complimentary wine and beer provided. Preparation for the event started in the middle of Fall Term, and the students hope this dinner will attract more people in the future.
Leading up to the dinner, culinary students were nervous but overall excited to be doing an event in the new Renaissance Room kitchen. This dinner was a chance for the culinary and hospitality students to put their learned knowledge and skills to the test in a real world setting.
“Doing a dinner like this is tough but that’s also part of the nature of this,” Jackson Kelsay, student head chef, said. “Chef’s put in 12-hour-days six days a week and they don’t blink an eye because they love what they are doing.”
The love of cooking and sharing food transcends into outreach programs in the community. Some of the money raised during the dinner goes toward outreach events such as Pancakes and Pajamas, which feeds Springfield elementary school children. The Springfield school district reached out to the culinary students to help feed students and gives the culinary and hospitality students a chance to give back to their community.
These dinners and community events all give the culinary and hospitality students experience in their own fields. This experience is noticed by local companies looking for potential recruits.
Jeff Gardner, local chef and owner of Pasta Gardner food distributor, was at the event to support the students in the culinary program and to look for potential hires.
“I like to support young chefs and help educate them,” Gardner said. “I am a graduate of the [Culinary] program from about ten years ago. They have remodeled the kitchen and it is really nice and it gives them a lot more experience in how a real working kitchen works.”
The best recruits, in Gardner’s mind, are students who are enthusiastic and are interested in the work.
Clive Wanstall, culinary instructor, was excited about the leadership his students demonstrated in handling this event.
“My role is to support their [students] work,” Wanstall said. “I really let them do everything. It’s their day in the sun.”
The students and faculty plan on more dinner events like this in the future and welcome the community to attend. More outreach plans, like Pancakes and Pajamas are also in the works with high schools as the next focus.