Commercial Foods Lab Opens in Burrier, Restaurant to Follow

photo of students in foods lab

Students in Eastern Kentucky University food service management classes in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences are learning this year to master equipment that will rival or even surpass what they will later encounter in many restaurants.

A new state-of-the-art commercial foods laboratory opened last fall on the third floor of the University’s Burrier Building. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility, located in Room 301, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What may be of even more interest to the campus community is what the commercial foods lab will make possible, beginning in the fall of 2011. Adjacent to the lab, a new table service restaurant will open, providing four-course midday meals two days a week throughout the fall semester for up to 40 guests. The restaurant, which overlooks Irvine McDowell Park, will be managed and operated by students enrolled in EKU’s baccalaureate dietetic program.

 Dr. Jim Haynes, nutrition professor who teaches the food service courses, said the new lab will “give our students hands-on experience with the type of food service equipment they’ll see when they get out in the field. They’ll learn how to maintain and care for it and learn the impact that equipment can have on productivity and efficiency.”

Haynes, who joined EKU 10 years ago, is a 30-year veteran of food service management, having served as director of food services at Wofford College and Arkansas State University.

The lab equipment includes ranges with salamanders, ovens, steam jacketed kettle, oven steamer, tilt braising pan, charbroil grill, convection oven, and slow roaster, along with refrigeration and dish-washing equipment, plus much more.

The facility also features a unique, electronically-controlled ventilation system. When the electronic sensors detect heat in the kitchen, the electric air handlers engage and the heated air is removed. The ventilation system runs at various speeds depending upon the amount of cooking heat the sensors detect. “The system is sustainable, and has the potential of saving tremendous amounts of energy,” Haynes said.

In addition to learning the equipment, students are expected to learn and follow proper food handling and processing regulations.

The restaurant will give EKU students the opportunity to serve as managers and chefs, among other positions, and experience every facet of the food service business: procurement, preparation, service, cleaning and management.

Plans are to offer a “healthful, upscale” meal at a set price, probably about $10, Haynes said. The meal, which will be served from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will vary from occasion to occasion so students can gain experience with different foods. A website for the restaurant will feature the menus for the entire semester and enable patrons to make reservations online.

The program is requesting suggestions for an appropriate name for the new restaurant. The provider of the winning entry will receive two free meals in Fall 2011. To enter, e-mail your name, e-mail address, telephone number and suggested name to jim.haynes@eku.edu.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the foods lab on Feb. 17 will include remarks, tours and refreshments.

Published on February 04, 2011