A working culinary classroom
HUGHESVILLE – A small taste of fine dining can be found at its best by visiting the newly opened Lyco Cafe that is run and managed by the culinary students at the Lycoming Career and Technology Center (LCTC) on the campus of the East Lycoming School District.
White linen tablecloths and fresh flowers adorn the glass table tops in a comfortable setting that easily welcomes visitors into a relaxing and delightful atmosphere to entice the culinary palate. While listening to light jazz music in the background, a young waiter will come and take your order. Weekly specials are listed and each student will give descriptive ingredients of the prepared entrees for the day. There will always be a choice of a soup, salad or sandwich or both. “This reminds me of an upscale restaurant in a hotel,” said Helen Grosso from Hughesville. “The dining room is very nice. Today we chose from a chef salad, home made soup and a reuben on rye with a choice of turkey or corned beef. I chose the corned beef and it was cooked to perfection,” she added.
Led by instructor and food services director, Brian Anstadt, the students decide 3 weeks in advance what the menu specials will be for each week. The working restaurant became officially open to the public the beginning of October, but most people are not aware of it yet according to Anstadt. He is hoping that guests and the visiting public will use the website to check out the menus and come to try the restaurant. “We are spending much time this year learning about the aspects of different culinary arts components, from cooking techniques to dining room procedures.” The students, in turn, learn to become skilled technicians in the food industry and many seniors go on to earn their Serv Safe Food Protection certification as well as going on to college. “My goal is for each student to be successful,” explained Anstadt who is also a Hughesville High School graduate of 1999.
Working in groups of three different sessions, 48 students are enrolled to learn a series of sanitation skills, menu development, catering, nutrition guidelines, and work ethics. They are very professional dressed in uniform, black pants, coat personalized with their name, apron and chef’s hat. It is part of the program. If they forget or miss their uniform they have to write 25 words. Students also said that their uniforms can be laundered there at the school. They are responsible for them and they had to pay for them. It is part of their work ethic grade. Upon arriving to class students must change promptly into their uniforms.
Michelle Hicklin from Muncy who is an aid and para-professional working with the students said,”This is a unique program for these kids. It gives them an opportunity and a focus with skills and tools they need to succeed.” The third level students do all the menu development. “They start with the basic skills, that is learning to make stocks for soups, then go on to cooking techniques such as grilling and sauteing,” replied Anstadt. Everything is made from scratch. Third level students also do the food ordering. These students are from Muncy, Hughesville, Warior Run, Montoursville and Loyalsock High Schools.
Some of the students have an opportunity to earn up to 3 college credits with Penn College. “There are other agreements with other colleges such as West Moreland Community College where they can earn up to 12 credits,” Anstadt said. “I like this class,” said Devante Oliver from Hughesville. “It gives me the satisfaction of learning how to cook.”
“We are training them to be capable of being hired as a cook or chef but really gearing them to college,” remarked Anstadt. Eighty percent of graduates go on to higher learning, ten percent go into the workforce and the other ten percent go into the military. “These are skills to use forever, no matter what.” Brandon Bartlett from Hughesville hopes to go to college for culinary arts after the military, he said.
The restaurant will remain open until the remaining of the school year, ending approximately two weeks before school closes, sometime the end of May. Tipping is allowed and goes towards field trips that students may take. Takeouts are also available. Local businesses can make reservations for groups and are given a discount rate. Catering is another service they offer to the community, and the LCTC is also planning some outreach programs for adults such as the Safe Serv Certification. Walk-ins are rarely accepted as the students need to know how much to prepare for production purposes. The restaurant can seat up to 48.
“Dine in or take out. It can all be arranged ahead of time,” Anstadt said.
Call 584-2300 or visit www.lycoctc.org for reservations.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK FROM THE LCTC
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Roasted Garlic Crostini
1 French baguette, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cups steamed broccoli
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup roasted garlic cloves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, until toasted. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat olive oilover medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, carrot, and broccoli. Pour broth over vegetables and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth or you can use a blender. Add milk and simmer 1 minute to heat through. Puree again. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mash garlic cloveswith a pinch each of salt and black pepper, making a thick paste. Spread mixture on toasted bread and serve with soup.