Posted on: October 29, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Marcus Collins

Students Victor Casco, Jose Rangel and Nick McGurry prepare to serve a wine dinner at Moraine’s new restaurant Thursday.

By Mariah Trujillo, News Editor

The moment you walk in, you’re greeted by four gentlemen dressed in classy black and white clothing, eager to take your coat. Snow-white table cloths gently drape over every table, with colorful flowers at the center of each one. Silverware is carefully placed, ready for each course. Classical music plays beneath the noise of chatting guests and clinking glasses.

For a moment, you feel as though you’ve stepped into a scene in Ratatouille.

You’ve actually entered Moraine’s new restaurant, Table 67, which is run by students in the culinary arts and restaurant/hotel management programs.

Photo by Mariah Trujillo
The menu for Thursday’s wine dinner includes a description of four courses with appropriate wine pairings.

The restaurant has yet to open fully, though the ribbon-cutting for the new facility was held last spring. This semester, four wine dinners with invited guests are being held as a sort of soft opening. One of the dinners took place Thursday evening.

The restaurant is set up to provide students with real-life experiences prior to graduation. 

“They’re ready to graduate, to transfer. It’s kind of like their last hoorah before they go off,” said Kalynn Duggan, restaurant/hotel management instructor. “This is a real-life experience which is good. That’s what we’re here for–it’s what community college is all about, real-life experiences.”

All students will get experience not only serving and tending to the guests, but also cooking and creating the dishes.

“The great thing is, the students that you see in the front of the house, they’ll be in the kitchen class also, so they see both sides. They see the front and the back, which is great,” said culinary instructor Chef Dean Eliacostas.

“When they’re out there, if there are issues or problems or the plate doesn’t look right, it makes you think a little more when you’re plating it. When you’re plating and the servers just take it out, you don’t see the reaction of the guest.”

The hope is to minimize the stress placed on culinary students in their future endeavors by giving them a full-circle experience with the added pressure of real-time circumstances in a calm, controlled environment. 

“It’s one thing to cook during class. When people come in here to dine, from the service aspect to the food aspect when people are physically paying for their meal, you have to take a different mindset,” said Eliacostas. “It’s really to get them ready so you know, they’re not going to get culture shock when they’re out there, and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Wait a minute.’”

Table 67 and its wine dinners have already benefitted students with no experience whatsoever as well as those with an extensive history in food service. 

Montana Gallimore, a restaurant/hotel management student, is experienced, but even she expressed how much she is learning. 

“I’ve been in the food industry since I was 16. I worked at a retirement home in their dining services department for six years,” said Gallimore. “I wasn’t really used to serving fine dining, so it’s cool to see how I used to serve the residents and then how this is more precise and professional.”

On the other hand, Ed Phillips, a culinary student, had never worked in a professional kitchen, and taking his cooking to a whole new level was a bit of a shock.

Photo by Marcus Collins
Chef Dean Eliacostas supervises the students cooking the wine dinner for Table 67.

“I’ve had a passion for cooking,” he said. “I cooked a lot at home and I wanted to work under some professional chefs and get some professional guidance.

“You see how we put out 33 dishes all out at the exact same time. It’s one thing to cook for your family for three or four people but to try and put out 33 dishes–I wouldn’t have thought how precise your timing and everything has to be.”

While Table 67 has already impacted the students running the show and the guests attending it, there is hope the restaurant will no longer be so “exclusive” and open up to the public sometime in the near future.

“We’ve been doing wine dinners for a couple of years now, but we didn’t have the restaurant,” said Duggan. “With COVID and everything like that, we kind of got restricted. One step at a time right now. Hopefully by spring we will maybe be doing some lunch services, maybe some curbsides, but we will always have these wine dinners.”

While no exact date has been set for Table 67 to make its public debut, the anticipation for guests to finally fill the chairs is apparent. 

“We’re really excited,” said Eliacostas. “I think the college itself is. I know the faculty is really excited; I know the community is really excited about it. I think it’s just going to be a fun experience, it’s going to have a good life to it.

“We look at it where it’s our home and we’re inviting people into our home. I think every semester, every year, we’re going to be able to do just a little bit more.”