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COLLEGE FOCUS

replacing the former Willow Room cafeteria, seats 50 in a dining room with an earth tone décor. Items on its menu, which change weekly, are chosen by the culinary arts students, Wygant said. Entrees include grilled hanger steak bordelaise with mushrooms, pan-seared crab cakes and mesculun greens with pulled duck. Though Sanscrainte’s task of shredding cheese may not have the pizzazz to warrant footage on a Food Network show, the task nevertheless is one of hundreds that she and her colleagues will perform daily in their lives as professional chefs. That’s just fine with Sanscrainte, a former business major, who took a baking course “on a whim” but discovered that cooking is her “true passion.” Indeed, the booming popularity of cable-TV cooking shows has been good for CLC’s hospitality and culinary management program, which has grown from 200 students in 2008 to an astounding 800 students today. Though the instructors are thrilled to see high enrollments, they sometimes have to poke a sharp skewer into students’ misconceptions of a chef’s life. “I often tell students that the career is not as glamorous as TV portrays it,” said Teresa Novinska, whose culinary career includes working as a chef at the Marriott Lincolnshire and teaching culinary arts part-time for 12 years before joining CLC as a full-time instructor in 2010.

Non-cooking tasks equally important Wygant agrees that the Food Network and other channels often glamorize the profession. “Some students think they’ll be instant food celebrities,” said Wygant, a California native and former chef in San Francisco.“You need to put in 10-15 years of work to get to anything resembling prominence. You have to pay your dues.” Cable TV shows also gloss over, if not ignore, the critical, behind-the-scenes tasks of running a restaurant, the instructors said. “There’s inventory management, hiring and firing staff and working with vendors,” Wygant said. “And you also have long hours, stress and working many nights, weekends and holidays. But the rewards are the chance to be creative, work with

your hands and make people happy by preparing great food.” The real-world advice is not lost on Sanscrainte. “What I like about CLC’s program is that it is not just food,” she said. “It’s purchasing and inventory, supervision and all the behindthe-scenes details. This program makes you well-rounded. Plus, I have a portfolio of recipes and photos of the foods that I prepared.”

Restaurant serves CLC-grown food Besides offering practical, hands-on experience, the Prairie restaurant plans to be a leader in using locally grown vegetables in its food preparation. Standing at a kitchen counter slicing cherry tomatoes is Lorraine Orbon (’12). The former accountant graduated from the program in May but couldn’t resist a chance to help open Prairie. The tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables come from the campus garden. Horticulture students plant, water and harvest the produce, which ranges from head lettuce, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower to red beets and winter squash. Herbs include rosemary, thyme, sage and tarragon. The CLC farm has a goal of supplying 20 percent of the restaurant’s produce needs, according to Gianna Fazioli, CLC’s local foods coordinator. Serving produce grown within a 500-mile radius pays off both environmentally and economically, said Wygant. “Every chef should

be on board with it, even if it’s for the flavor alone,” he said, noting the just-picked freshness. The environmental benefits are many, said Rory Klick, chair of the horticulture program. “The average bite of food has traveled 1,500 miles before it goes into your mouth,” she said. “Traditional food is typically grown with added pesticides and chemical fertilizers, managed in farms with equipment needing fossil fuels, and then shipped to us using fossil fuels. Compare that environmental footprint to raising food right here on campus using natural fertilizers such as compost, no pesticides and hardly any fossil fuel.” Prairie’s ultimate goal, Klick said, is a “closed-loop” system that can serve as a model for restaurants. “The food grown here in the campus farm will go into our restaurant and cafeteria,” she explained. “The funds earned by the sale of that produce will go back into supporting the farm. The pre-consumer food scraps go back into the compost that sustains the soil that grows the food. The students are hired to help grow and prepare the food, and so the circle is self-sustaining. It’s not just what we want to teach, it’s what we want to model for other schools, corporations and institutions.” The green approach is one more thing that Sanscrainte can put in her already-thick portfolio. “Having this experience at a young age will help me when I launch my own restaurant someday,” she said.

A sample of Prairie’s menu. ALUMNEWS | 9

College of Lake County Fall 2012 Alumni News  

The College of Lake County Alumni Association serves as a vital link between alumni and the college by sponsoring educational, social and cu...

College of Lake County Fall 2012 Alumni News  

The College of Lake County Alumni Association serves as a vital link between alumni and the college by sponsoring educational, social and cu...