In the dining area of the North Side’s EVSC Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center, crisp white tablecloths and cloth napkins suggest formal dining, but this is no stuffy atmosphere. Three days a week, it’s a hands-on learning experience for high school culinary arts students who are taught by chef Ed Ellis how to whip up everything from muffins and pastries to entrees, soups, salads, and more for the 40-plus patrons who enjoy lunch in the restaurant.
Ellis’ culinary arts program includes both morning and afternoon classes and spans four semesters. After completing the first five weeks of basic training, which includes skills such as knife work and operating major kitchen equipment, students work with partners in two-week cycles, learning tasks such as multiple-course preparation, proper food handling, and cleaning responsibilities. Advanced skills — butchering, meat trimming, pastry preparation — are handled by returning and second-year students.
The restaurant’s menu changes daily, but Ellis says he likes to consistently offer comfort foods such as tuna casserole, meat loaf, Salisbury steak, and stir-fries. Also available are salads, shaved meats, tuna and ham salads, cream- or broth-based soups, and an assortment of desserts. Everything on the buffet is $1 per serving, and the $5 plate lunch includes an entree, two sides, a muffin, and drink.
Ellis’ budding chefs also provide catering services — continental breakfasts and lunches — for businesses and non-profits using their accommodations. On those busy days, multitasking and working with a sense of urgency is crucial, says Ellis. “They are really experiencing the reality of this career.”
The restaurant is open 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Tues.-Thurs. For daily menus, visit www.evscschools.com/SICTC.