OAK FOREST, IL — Bremen High School teacher Andy French realizes that some lessons are best learned outside of the classroom, especially when it comes to real-life work situations.
Each semester, French tasks his students in his Culinary Management course with creating a pop-up restaurant that will provide food for Bremen’s faculty and staff. Every detail of the restaurant – from its theme to menu items and even the design of the uniform the restaurant staff will wear on launch day – is left to the students.
What begins as a sort of final exam turns into a rewarding experience for students as they explore the possibility of operating a restaurant. In November, French students introduced Nacho Business, a nifty little business that offered six varieties of the popular menu item and turned what they had learned during the semester into a full-fledged restaurant that even offered a delivery option. of food.
The 14 students in the class spent the semester working with an $800 budget to calculate food and operating costs for pop-up restaurants, which are limited one semester per school year to a one-day existence.
“You can see the creativity of the kids coming out,” French told Patch on Tuesday. “The creativity that comes out of it kind of shines above the rest (of the mission). All the other elements, the kitchen, the customer service kind of take care of themselves when put in this frame.”
He added: “This year it’s one of the best dishes and some of the best creativity I’ve seen.”
Nacho Business offered six menu varieties, including two original or traditional nachos, two specialty nachos, and two dessert nachos. The business has met during the semester, and every aspect of the business is put to the vote of the student business owners. For a month, the final details of the pop-up concept are put in place before orders are taken and the day of business operations begins to take shape.
French said he has received many requests for the pop-up restaurant to be open longer than it is. But due to the constraints of the class, the one day the business actually works is about all the class can handle. French said he considered a soft opening to give students a sense of what opening for business entails before opening day arrives.
By the time the mission is over, the business is open for around five hours. But it’s long enough, according to French, for students to gain valuable knowledge.
“Everything has been overwhelmingly positive,” French said of the response the contextual concept assignment has garnered from faculty and school staff.
Part of the ad is an appeal to staffers who might be tired of eating Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch. French said it was the first time the students came up with a nacho-focused business model, which proved popular among those who ordered from the restaurant.
The mission also serves as a precursor for students who plan to attend culinary school after graduating from Bremen. For culinary management students who might be hesitant about their future career plans, French hopes the final project nudges them in a direction where the skills they learn can be put to good use.
While French hopes the class can be offered year-round and expand its services to students, the lessons learned on a small scale, he hopes, will one day translate into real-life culinary adventures.
“The point of this course is to sort of iron out all the loose ends and get you up to speed with what you might be going through in culinary school or what you might be looking forward to owning your own restaurant one day,” French said.
“There’s so much more to cooking and that’s something people don’t realize. Kids are learning so many more skills like talking to people and working as a team. … It’s about working together and making sure that everyone has a job to do because that’s how a restaurant works. It’s kind of like a boat. If a person doesn’t pull their weight, the boat will sink.