Chef Tim Shaw introduced his new students to the kitchen of SF State’s fine dining restaurant by demonstrating how to prepare and plate the first dishes of the semester — an eggplant parmigiana and a rosemary tri-tip “California” dip.
“I tell them on the first day of class that I want to know their ideas. I want to know what they want to do,” said Shaw. “I don’t want this to be chef Tim’s restaurant.”
Shaw, The Vista Room’s chef and instructor since fall 2015, teaches students of all levels to cook and prepare meals for real customers.
The restaurant, which reopened its doors for the semester on Aug. 31, kicked off the school year with a new menu. The Vista Room doubles as a formal lunch experience for students and faculty and as a course laboratory for the hospitality and tourism management department. Students enrolled in the class learn the ins and outs of working in a restaurant kitchen.
Hospitality management major, Evelyn Favela, has aspirations to work in event planning after college, but she enrolled in the course hoping that working in The Vista Room kitchen would expose her to a different aspect of the hospitality industry.
“It’s exciting to know I can learn so much while working behind the scenes,” said Favela. “I’ve never worked in a kitchen setting so I like that I’ll gain experience while learning from a professional.”
The first customers of the semester were psychology student Alen Tersakyan, University Articulation Officer Cecilia Herrmann and University Curriculum Coordinator Claude Bartholomew from the department of undergraduate education and academic planning.
Though Herrmann was a returning customer, Tersakyan and Bartholomew were both eating at the Vista Room for the first time and were impressed with the unique on-campus dining experience.
“It’s not something I’ve seen on other campuses so it’s great to see that SF State offers this,” said Bartholomew.
All three agreed they would return to have lunch in the near future.
Restaurant management instructor, Joe LaVilla, recommends anyone interested in eating at The Vista Room should make a reservation ahead of time, since availability is mainly based on the number of students working in the kitchen and front of house.
The Vista Room is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 p.m. to 2 p.m. Menu offerings range from $6 to $12 dollars. However, a three-course prix fixe option is available for $17 a person.
For this semester’s first menu, Shaw created dishes based on seasonal organic and local ingredients. He plans to update the menu during the semester to keep all the dishes seasonal.
“The food we have now isn’t going to be so appropriate in the middle of October,” said Shaw “It also gives the students a chance to have some repetition. This way they can make the dish a few times before they master it.”
Shaw strives to make everything on the menu farm-to-table, but he also takes into consideration different dietary restrictions.
“There should always be a vegan dish, and there should always be something vegetarian,” said Shaw. “I try to take that into account so people with dietary restrictions can always find something on the menu.”