TSTC Culinary Arts students become restaurateurs


Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts will be opening a restaurant on campus which will be operated and managed by students. The grand opening is set for January 26.

The restaurant, by the name of Al Dente, will be open to TSTC students, faculty and staff and the interested members of the community. The restaurant will be located in the culinary arts dining room at the Senator Eddie Lucio Health Science Technology Building (Building U) and will open every Tuesday and Thursday, until February 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The main objective of opening this restaurant is to give the students the opportunity of learning how to cook food to order,” said Chef Emily Crepps, Culinary Arts department chair and instructor.

“We took it a step further by creating a restaurant because this will also train our students on restaurant operations and finance management. All of these things will help our student be successful once they graduate.” The Culinary Arts senior class will be in charge of the kitchen, menu selection and food preparation. The freshmen, sophomores and juniors will be host customers, take orders and serve meals. The name of the restaurant and menu were also decided by the students. The Culinary Arts senior class created and voted on the restaurant name Al Dente and worked together to create a menu they feel many visitors will enjoy.

“What sets us apart from other culinary schools is the training we give our students,” said Crepps. “Many times when a culinary class creates a restaurant, everything is created by instructors and given to the students to execute, but here we give our students the opportunity to make their own menus and decisions because that’s how it is in the real world.” Restaurant patrons can choose their lunch from a menu consisting of a soup, salad, sandwich, and entrees such as meatloaf and chicken parmesan, and desserts. During the grand restaurant debut, students will have a Grand Opening Special for five dollars. It will consist of a club sandwich, chips and a soda.

Restaurant visitors in the morning will also be able to choose from brunch options which include omelets, pastries and muffins.

“This is valuable training we won’t get out in the real world after graduation,” said Marisa Mendoza, a senior in the Culinary Arts. “This allows me, all of us, to get experience in every aspect of the kitchen and a restaurant. When we graduate from TSTC we’ll be able to show potential employers the skills and knowledge we’ve gained by being in this program.” Students in Culinary Arts can expect to learn basic and specialized principles, in addition to culinary techniques. Student will receive hands-on training in areas such as food preparation, menu planning, catering, butchering skills, sugar and chocolate work, cake decorating and plate presentation.

Upon graduating with a certificate or associate degree a student can expect to find employment in a variety of areas ranging from restaurants, hotels and resorts to cruise lines, schools and hospitals.

The TSTC campuses in Abilene, Waco and Williamson County also offer certificates and associate degrees in Culinary Arts.

To make reservations at Al Dente or for more information on Culinary Arts call 956-364-4754.