WESTFORD — The Elegant Chef is cooking again. And baking. And serving.
The award-winning, in-school restaurant at Nashoba Valley Technical High School is open for business for the new school year, and the public can finally come back for lunch Tuesday through Friday when school is in session.
This year, they’re kicking it up a notch, as seniors in Culinary Arts continue to develop their own menus as they make their culinary themes come true.
Chef-Instructor Paul Wilson started the practice last year, allowing seniors, all of whom in the school must complete a senior project, to come up with a theme, devise dishes based on the theme, and take charge of the kitchen.
“We’re trying to get the students prepared for the real world,” Chef-Inspector Carley Capraro said.
Toward that end, The Elegant Chef’s kitchen has seen some upgrades in the equipment that the staff and students use to cook meals for the public.
“The main thing we’re trying to do is introduce the students to as many ways to prepare food as we can,” Wilson said. “We have updated the technology with the ovens. They’re working with the type of equipment they’ll see in industry.”
Students in Culinary Arts work together with those in Hospitality Management to prepare and serve lunch to the public and to teachers in the school.
Chef-Instructor Jeremy Bussiere, who teaches the hospitality side, said this year he and his fellow instructors want to see the students up their game.
“Professionalism is a big part of what we’re doing,” Bussiere said. “Hospitality is one of the largest fields in the world, and we’re trying to get kids on more field trips to some local sites, like Great Wolf in Fitchburg, just to see what’s available to them in the field. We have a student working co-op at the front desk of the Boxborough Regency and another going out on co-op soon.”
The instructors are taking the school’s “Portrait of a Graduate” traits – responsibility, respect, resilience, resourcefulness and readiness – to heart.
“It’s about responsibility, readiness,” Bussiere said. “It really goes along with the Portrait of a Graduate.”
The Elegant Chef also provides catering for parties outside the school, and the bakery, which Capraro oversees, is expanding its Bagel Friday effort, preparing 5-8 varieties of bagel each week for pickup on Friday. The bakery is also expanding its bread offerings at the request of students, who enjoy making different varieties of bread.
“We’re trying to get these kids out in the workforce,” Wilson said. “You can’t really teach work ethic, but we try to instill in them the necessity of learning how to cook.”
The Elegant Chef is open to the public for lunch Tuesday through Friday, when school is in session, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (978) 692-9958 to make a reservation or to order bagels by Wednesday for pickup Friday morning.
A catering menu is available at NashobaTech.net; go to the menu at the top right and find the subhead “Services,” then “Elegant Chef and Bistro,” go the bottom and then find the link labeled “View the Catering Menu.”
(Courtesy of Nashoba Technical High School)