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Ole Miss Cooks Up Experience for Students

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications

At the University of Mississippi, Lenoir Hall has become the culinary center for teaching students about the restaurant business.

“We’re here to get the students involved in the food service aspect,” said Jeremy Roberts, Nutrition and Hospitality management instructor and coordinator of marketing. “We’re a heavy food-service department, so we want to give them experience working in the front and back of the house in a restaurant setting.”

Lenoir Dining is a 40-seat teaching laboratory where students call the shots. Rotating through numerous positions from server to manager, allows future food-services professionals to learn about the business in a hands-on environment.

The facility includes a waiting area, seating area and full kitchen. In the seating area, you’ll find each table equipped with evaluation cards for comments and suggestions. These cards are used to give NHM students feedback on their overall performance.

Students working in Lenoir Dining are enrolled in a course at the University called NHM 462/472, Quantity Food Production and Service. This 5-credit course teaches class participants how to operate a restaurant, with the University and the Oxford community being the target clientele. Throughout the course, basic principles of quantity food production and service in commercial environments are covered.

Menu planning, recipe standardization, costing and culinary skills are just some of the concepts that students learn. Best part of the class? Creating a gourmet restaurant atmosphere.

The course encourages students to rotate positions within the facility, and to voice ideas on food options. To ensure a diversity of food challenges for students, Lenoir Dining changes its menu weekly. The rotating menu helps to motivate culinary creativity.

Marika Yanke, a senior NHM student, enjoys this aspect of the restaurant business the most.

“I really enjoy back of the house. I think it’s so fun seeing first-hand how everything goes down in the kitchen,” said Yanke. “I’ve never worked in a kitchen before, so it’s exciting.”

Yanke believes Lenoir Dining teamwork adds even more to the experience.

“It’s a good group and it’s fun getting to work so closely with everyone,” she said.

The food at Lenoir Dining reflects the students’ chemistry, enthusiasm for the class and results consistently in a quality meal. Yanke said that the best part of seeing the finished meal is knowing she worked hard to create it.

“When the food goes out, I’m like ‘I made that,’ It’s cool,” she said.

Lunch and dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays include fresh baked bread and a flavorful 3-course meal. A combination of baked brie ravioli with chutney and pepper jelly was the choice for this week’s first course. Students served tender catfish with lemon-thyme cream sauce over basmati rice and roasted brussel sprouts for the second course. A fresh berry medley with homemade whipped cream capped off the meal.

But this top-shelf dining experience won’t break the bank. At $7 for students, faculty and staff, and $10 for the public, Lenoir Dining offers high quality, high value gourmet dining.

The restaurant — originally The Fanfare Room in Meek Hall — is celebrating its 10-year anniversary at Lenoir Hall, while simultaneously observing the NHM department’s 100th anniversary.

“The department will have a big reception for homecoming as well as 7 events throughout the year,” Roberts said. “But we have four different events that go on every week so our serving pace is challenging.”

Christina Sallis, journalism student, Meek School of Journalism and New Media

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