The Kitchen Revealed: Vista Room offers fine dining on campus
Students get experience, patrons get affordable formal dining from campus restaurant.
February 16, 2006 8:28 PM
Working 70 hours a week in the fast-food industry is not something Garin Wong would want to do again. But from his busy schedule came the experience and knowledge that got him where he is today.
As the kitchen manager in the Vista Room, a student-run fine dining restaurant located on campus, Wong, a 27-year-old senior double majoring in hospitality management and small business management, oversees that food service runs smoothly.
The Vista Room is a lab where students working toward a hospitality management or consumer family studies/dietetics degree can get hands-on experience. By simulating a restaurant setting, students gain knowledge for future careers in the restaurant and food management industry.
On Feb. 20, the Vista Room re-opened its doors for the semester.
“I think you should put your best effort in the school experience,” Wong said to this semester’s staff. “Don’t just take the class thinking that getting by with a C is fine. Whatever you learn now will help you in the future.”
Under the supervision of Head Chef Daniel Honan, students prepare and serve meals to people on campus. In 1995, the class was designed to promote teaching and learning while serving guests at the same time.
Normally it costs around $20 to $30 for a three-course lunch, but the Vista Room provides high quality meals for about $14.
Guests are served a three-course meal that comes with soup or salad, a meat or fish entrée, and dessert. Vegetarian meals are offered upon request. Instead of leaving a tip, patrons give the Vista Room students written evaluations.
Wong’s first experience in the food industry was when he started working at both a McDonald’s and a KFC, sometimes working 70 hours a week. After getting an Associates Degree in 2001 at City College in culinary arts, Wong later came to SF State as an industrial technology design major later switching his major to small business management.
His involvement with the Vista Room was accidental. He took the lab class for his Segment III requirement, but was offered a work-study job after the chef noticed his experience around the kitchen. Soon after, he became the kitchen manager.
Though strict at times, Wong’s co-workers know they can count on him to make sure that students in the kitchen follow the correct procedures for sanitation, food preparation and safety.
“Garin has a lot of good ideas and is very experienced,” said Vista Room Dining Manager Janine Pascual, 21, a junior majoring in child adolescent development. “I actually feel intimidated by him sometimes because he’s so full of knowledge.”
When Wong is not busy in the kitchen, he teaches kung fu to kids in Chinatown once a week. He has been practicing kung fu and lion dancing for the past 20 years.
After graduation, Wong wants to start up his own restaurant that would specialize in either French or California cuisine. By the time he retires, he wants to own a couple different restaurants throughout the city.
“I like culinary arts because it allows you to be creative without thinking too hard,” said Wong. “The way you arrange the food on the plate is important because people eat with their eyes before actually tasting it.”
For more information visit The Vista Room
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