School News

Middle School Students Run Restaurant

--by Andy Hallman, Fairfield Ledger

For one night earlier this month, Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment was a full-service juice bar and restaurant, run completely by students.

The middle school students organized the restaurant as part of a class project, with a little help from English and social studies teacher Richard Incorvia and math and science teacher Barbara Hays. The kids sold tickets to the restaurant, which was set up Oct. 2 inside the Media Center southwest of Hopson Hall. Each student performed a different restaurant related role such as a chef, waiter, bussers, bartender and steward.

In all, 50 members of the public turned out for the restaurant, which served a meal at 6 p.m. that night and another one at 7 p.m. The work they did that night was just a tiny sliver of the time the student put into planning the project, since they were responsible for creating a menu, decorating the restaurant, buying the food and cooking it. The students made origami figurines that matched the names of the dishes they prepared.

“The purpose of this project is to appreciate the journey of food from seed to table, understand basic nutrition and learn how to cook,” Incorvia told his class.

The students were awarded roles based on the quality of their job interviews for whatever job they wanted. The students who wanted to be chefs had to go through a special competition where they cooked a dish and served it to Hays and Incorvia.

“We watched some episodes of Food Network’s ‘Chopped,’ and styled our judging after that show,” Incorvia said.

The students who cooked the most delicious dishes for the teachers were given the opportunity to cook for the public. One of the winning chefs was eighth-grader Pravan Chhaliyil. The first time he cooked for Hays and Incorvia, he made them an Indian dish containing potatoes and curry, something his parents taught him to make and a dish he had plenty of experience cooking.

Chhaliyil thought the dish might taste even better with chutney and tomatoes, so he added those ingredients when he served it at the restaurant. He said the project helped him learn the importance of time management and how to cook meals for a large number of people.

Eighth-grader Brandon Ragogna was Chhaliyil’s sous chef and helped him prepare the chutney and puri. He said he was not used to making Indian food before the restaurant project, and that his favorite things to bake are pastries, pies and crescent roles. He said he learned how stressful working for a restaurant can be, because it seemed as though there was not enough time to fill all the orders.

“Always give yourself more time than you think you need,” he said. “That’s the lesson I learned.”

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