Traveling taste buds: Culinary students serve up classic American cuisine

Quantity Food Project class members from left, Savanah Medlock and Bethany Roe bread the southern fried chicken teak while Sarah Nicolette opens canned vegetables for the Brunswick stew in preparing for the Friday Cafe at Oakley Hall. Photo by Johnathan Oxley.

Tech students enrolled in the Quantity Food Production class receive hands-on experience in food management by participating in the student-led restaurant Friday Café in Oakley Hall.

Students are involved in planning the menu, buying the food, and even the marketing aspect of the restaurant. 

The course is taught by Dr. Sungpo Yi, a professor in the School of Human Ecology. Although the class usually has more students, this semester there are only six enrolled, Yi said.

This class is important for nutrition students because it covers the practical part of the food production process, Yi said. 

“This is a unique and critical course where students make different foods using different techniques,” Yi said. 

Each Friday Café offers a different themed menu such as foods well-known in cities like Miami, Chicago, and New Orleans.

Savanah Medlock, a junior nutrition and dietetics student, said she has been excited about the course since she toured campus in 2016.

“This class has shown me a different side of the nutrition and dietetics concentration,” Medlock said. “I even use the recipes I have learned in my home life.” 

Patrons of the Friday Café must reserve their seat by the Wednesday prior to the cafe they wish to attend. Seating is limited to about 50 seats.

Once the class knows how many people plan to attend, they order their supplies that day, Yi said.

The day of the cafe, the class arrives at 9 a.m. Yi assigns each student with a task whether it’s preparing, cooking, or plating the food. Other students prepare the dining room so they are ready by the time they open at noon. 

“Everything is made from scratch, so it is very time consuming,” Yi said.