FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Pandemic forces change for culinary students at Fox Valley Technical College

Local News

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) The pandemic has taken its toll on the food service industry, as restaurants make adjustments to remain in operation. The same holds true for the Culinary Arts program at Fox Valley Technical College.

In the kitchen of Ione’s Dining Room at Fox Valley Tech, culinary arts students prepare lunch. But because of the virus there is no sit-down service.

“We really wish we could have it open, so that we could get that one-on-one interaction with our guests,” said student Ashley Baeten.

The pandemic forced changes at the college, with some on-line instruction and social distancing measures put in place. But along with those modifications, a decision was made to shut the student-run restaurant.

“We started where the school was closed and we eventually got to the point that faculty could come in here and work a little bit,” said Chef Richard Williams.

But just like eateries across the area, the instructors decided they’d adapt, to keep their culinary students busy and their food prep skills sharp, by modifying their service to take out only for college faculty and staff.

“It’s been excellent, it’s working very well, it really has gone well right from the start,” said Williams.

So now three days a week these students put on PPE and cook in the kitchen; items like butternut squash risotto and seared scallops.

“It’s definitely higher end quality food – on real nice to go plating,” said student Amanda Gutierrz.

When the meals are ready, they’re packaged to go and delivered to customers waiting outside.

“It’s keeping everyone safe, we want to keep our employees, especially our students here, we just want to stay safe and healthy,” Baeten said.

The pivot means students keep learning their craft.

“They are able to finish the program that they started in the kitchen,” Williams said.

Thanks to a switch from dine-in to take out.

“We’re going to go with this same plan as long as we need to be safe,” Williams said.

For now that food is only available for take out for college faculty and staff.

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