The secret, my friends, lies in the in-house restaurants of culinary schools! And lately, I have been enjoying fancy 3 to 10 course dinners at my sons' university campuses. Haha! A 10 course dinner prepared by student chefs costs less than a bowl of soup in a five star restaurant! I am cheap, I know!
I am a messy eater and more of a soup and sandwich girl although I do enjoy the occasional formal dinner in a posh restaurant and ONLY with people I am really comfortable with. Haute cuisine served up by culinary students is more fun and less intimidating.
One - You don't have to deal with poncey waiters/waitresses. The rookie serving staff are probably more nervous than you.
Two - You don't have to sweat over the confusing tableware. Nobody cares if you are eating your fish with a soup spoon instead of a fish knife. The other diners who are mostly students are too busy having fun snapping photos with their phones. Heck, I could eat my fish with a pair of chopsticks and nobody would bat an eye! Hey, I am very talented with my chopsticks! I can pick the tiniest bone off my fish with chopsticks, even a microscopic sesame seed! Fun fact - did you know it's easier to eat spaghetti with chopsticks than a fork? All that twirling with a fork is a sheer waste of effort.
Three - You don't have to dine with pretentious guests. No one rolls their eyes at you if your fork clanks a little too loudly or if your escargot bounces of your plate!
Remember that famous Julia Robert dining scene? It never gets old!
Four - Who knows, you may even experience the talents of the next top chefs before they become Michelin stars!
Five - You don't need to attend a fine dining etiquette workshop to learn about the right utensils to use. You get all the practice you need!
The downside? The RARE occasion when your steak is a tad underdone. Pardon the lame pun.
My latest experience to share. A Valentine-themed dinner inspired by Spanish Chef Elena Arzak. She is one of only six women in history whose restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars. Arzak was named best Female Chef in the World in 2012.
Gotta love the fun names the students DISHed out for their creations.
Deep fried butterfish in Kataifi
IT TAKES 2 TO TANGO
Marinated sardines with balsamic strawberry
FIRST DAY OF SPRING
Raspberry gazpacho with melon
BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SKY
Yabbies with mangosteen and garlic
POP THE QUESTION
Baked egg with yolk veil and chicken broth
JUST THE TWO OF US
Seared red snapper with green and red parterre
Rack of lamb with pea purée, green sponge and fondant potatoes
Lime soufflé with smoked lemon ice cream
Chocolate sponge and mousse with orange parfait
Petit fours - Banana marshmallows, almond biscuits, passion fruit jellies, white bean truffles
Burp! That was a mighty fine dinner. I heard that a Gordon Ramsey inspired dinner is next on their calendar. Can't wait!