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Baking for Broadmoor

Snatching a whisk from the table, junior Kayla van Thullenar scrubs the Yuzu Vinaigrette off of it with raw hands. Stuffing it in the dishwasher, she moves on to the chicken grease left on a saute pan. As the dishwasher finishes its cycle, she carefully removes the tools the chefs need right away. She tries not to burn her hands in the scalding water inside the steaming dishwasher, but does anyway.

Van Thullenar has to move quickly and efficiently. She’s working the cleaning station at the Broadmoor Bistro in Overland Park, and the student-chefs need their utensils immediately to get their customers’ meals underway.

The Broadmoor Bistro is a 3,000 square feet, student-run restaurant added to the Broadmoor Technical Center. The extravagantly decorated restaurant is dimly lit and the tables are set with wine glasses and shining sets of silverware.

“It’s really fancy and elegant,” Senior and Broadmoor Culinary Arts member Emily Kaplan said. “It has great food and a great atmosphere.”

The restaurant is open to the public and reservations are made on their website. Anyone can enjoy a four course meal for $30. The menu, which changes with the seasons, is served every Wednesday evening, giving students a chance to step into the real world of culinary arts while juggling regular school classes.

“The Bistro is an extracurricular activity that is run by the students,” senior and Bistro employee Chris Tucker said. “The students make the food, they wait the tables, they serve the tables, everything.”

Junior and senior students sign up for electives at Broadmoor, like culinary arts or baking, and are bused to the Technical Center during the last periods of their day.

“I go hours one through four at East,” van Thullenar said. “Then I’m in the third session of classes at Broadmoor, which are from 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.”
While working in the Bistro, students learn to cook, clean and wait tables with only the supervision of their two instructors: Chef Bob Brassard and Chef Justin Hoffman. Brassard has worked for about 30 years in restaurants in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. In 2008 he was recognized as culinary educator of the year. Hoffman graduated from the Broadmoor culinary programs, worked in many restaurants and was a member of the United States Culinary Olympic Team at Westchester Country Club.

“[Brassard and Hoffman] are very good,” Tucker said. “They definitely know what they are doing.”

[media-credit id=170 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit] With a menu ranging from truffled-cauliflower soup to braised veal breast, the students have undergone exquisite training to execute dishes for their usual 70 to 80 customers a night.
The students’ day at Broadmoor ends at 2:15 p.m. Students participating in the Bistro rush to put on their uniform red tops and black pants and report to the restaurant by 3:30 every Wednesday.

They are then given their assignments for the night which range from serving bread and water to cooking the actual meals. An instructional pep talk is usually given by one of the instructors in the kitchen before the night begins at 5 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Working at the pace of a four or five star restaurant, the students experience the high stress of a real kitchen job.

“For the students who cook for the night, there is significant pressure to get the food out quickly,” Tucker said.

As patrons leave the restaurant, the students of the Bistro begin the task of cleaning the kitchen and dishes. They are sometimes there as late as 11 p.m. following all of the closing procedures: packing up food, putting away dishes and cleaning off work spaces.

“You can learn as much as you want out of a book,” Tucker said. “But it doesn’t compare to actually doing it.”

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Taylor Bell

Taylor Bell is a senior at East. This is her second year on staff and her first year as a staff photographer. Along with The Harbinger, she is on the swim team and gymnastics team. Read Full »

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