Students cooking up prospects
Lunch service had only just begun when the bread rolls ran out.
Hungry patrons buzzed with irritation, before a young waitress appeared.
“Don't worry we've met a snag, more rolls will be coming shortly,” she told them, a little nervously.
The diners relaxed and smiled indulgently. It was, after all, lunch in the student-manned Prospect Room at Bermuda College.
The $39 four-course meals are prepared by students who are overseen by guest chefs. Derek Myers of Island Restaurant Group was in charge last Friday, the final lunch of the semester.
His meal started with a choice of tomato gazpacho or sweet potato and chicken chowder.
Next up, lamb empanadas followed by a choice of chorizo and fig stuffed chicken breast or pan-seared snapper tostada. For dessert there were Mexican doughnuts.
“It has been fun,” Mr Myers said. “It is a bit different because I'm working out of a teaching kitchen.
“There's no line-up as there is in a restaurant kitchen. Instead students were divided into groups working on different mains such as chicken or snapper.”
The executive chef was very impressed.
“They've listened and followed instructions very well,” he said.
He was pleased that some of the students had already approached him about summer internships at IRG restaurants Victoria Grill, Barracuda Grill, Hog Penny, Pickled Onion and Frog and Onion.
“It's not that we struggle to find Bermudians to work in our kitchens,” he said. “The problem is that a lot of young chefs don't stay in Bermuda.
“After graduating from the Bermuda College they either go abroad to study or they want to work in big cities.
“Of course, they need the experience and we can't blame them. Still, sometimes we wish they would stay.”
Hospitality management student Gabriella Pucci was one of five who worked with Mr Myers.
“I am looking to work in hotels but I am not sure what departments yet,” she said. “I started working in the Prospect Room on February 19 and have been working every other Friday since.
“It has been an awesome experience. Even though a chef [or a] waitress is not what I'm working towards, you learn good skills for careers in hospitality.”
She was very nervous at the outset. A table is set aside at each meal for college instructors; students are graded on their performance.
College president Duranda Greene also comes for almost every lunch, to show her support.
“I didn't know what to expect until the first day and then had to adjust to the routine,” said 17-year-old Miss Pucci. “Once we adjusted to the routine, the nerves became less of a problem.”
Seeing regular faces sometimes helps.
“We come all the time,” said one diner. “We like the food, and the price.
“Today they are a bit slow and one of my dishes was cold. I was a bit surprised as usually they have good timing.
“I like my food to go from the plate into my mouth extremely hot.
“I'll tell you one thing, they're better than another high-end restaurant in Hamilton I could name.”
The weekly lunch resumes in the autumn. Reservations are made on 236-9000 ext 4461.