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Students Learn About America’s Culinary Influences

Regional American Cuisine menus, prepared by students in the School of Hospitality at Pennsylvania College of Technology, have returned for the fall semester at Le Jeune Chef Restaurant.

Served Wednesday and Friday evenings this semester, the dinners feature signature dishes from across the continent, prepared by students in a course taught by Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts.

As part of the course requirements, each student takes a turn as “student manager” for the evening, serving as sous chef to Ditchfield. Among their duties, the students determine ingredient quantities and costs and make assignments to classmates for each kitchen responsibility.

Each student also studies the region to which he or she has been assigned, learning about the climate and culture that influence the region’s food choices.

The semester opened with a “Buy Fresh Buy Local” menu, filled with ingredients that were produced locally and presented under the direction of Michael A. Petrizio, a culinary arts technology student from Sellersville.

Next up was a menu from the “Pacific Northwest,” prepared under culinary arts technology student Joseph J. Locher, of New Freedom. The menu, served Sept. 16, featured Asian-style food with such regional entrees as calamari puffs and braised short ribs.

Sept. 23 features a “Floribbean” menu presented by culinary arts and systems student Antonio J. Rodriguez, of Pottsville.

“Some of the menu items contain a lot of seafood,” Rodriguez said, as well as tropical flavors common to Florida and the Caribbean. Entrees include broiled pompano with an orange buerre blanc sauce and a chicken dish that is sauteed with ginger and tamarind.

On Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, students will prepare a “Southwest” menu. Brandon R. Greiss, a culinary arts technology student from New Tripoli, will lead the students on Sept. 28, and Zachary D. Derck, a culinary arts and systems student from Northumberland, will take charge Sept. 30.

“There are many different flavors and textures going on in a rich variety of menu selections,” Greiss said. “Foods will be roasted, broiled, baked and grilled.” “There’s a lot of Southwest favorites, with a fine-dining twist,” Derck said.

Oct. 5 and 7 will feature “California Fusion,” prepared under the direction of culinary arts and systems student Megan E. Endres, of Wyoming, on Oct. 5, and under culinary arts and systems student Tyler K. Pratt, of Avondale, on Oct. 7.

“My “˜California Fusion’ menu consists of some unusual twists on Southwestern cuisines to produce bold, richly flavored dishes with complex ingredients,” Endres said. “Turducken, a classic New Orleans dish, is seen in a whole new light, and a wasabi tuna pizza adds an Asian flare.”

Oct. 19 and 21 feature the “Chesapeake Bay,” directed by culinary arts technology student Alexander M. Fries, of Walnutport, on Oct 19, and culinary arts technology student Mark R. Risinger, of Warren, on Oct. 21.

“The Chesapeake region menu is one that incorporates a variety of different seafoods,” Fries said, including “Chesapeake chowder” and such entrees as crab cake and beef medallion, and chicken, crab and waffles.

Oct. 26 and 28 brings the tastes of the “Deep South.” Culinary arts technology student Sarah E. McDonnell, of Jersey Shore, will lead the kitchen on Oct. 26, followed by baking and pastry arts student Crystal L. Butler on Oct. 28.

“We are offering original Southern fare, such as boar loin and chicken saute with Kentucky bourbon,” Butler said. “We have interesting dishes such as Deep South egg rolls that have Southern accents. We are also refreshing a traditional dish called ‘Hoppin’ John Salad.'”

The Nov. 2 menu comes from the “Heartland,” under the lead of culinary arts technology student Jessica L. Ireland, of Port Carbon.

“The majority of my foods for ‘Heartland’ are the type of foods you could consider “˜down-home cooking,'” Ireland said. “There are a lot of grains and more natural products that people would want to eat. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want Amish potato salad with hot bacon dressing, or fried chicken and macaroni and cheese?”

Nov. 9 and 11, students explore the local region with a “Susque-Dutch” menu. Culinary arts technology student Jordan T. Homet, of Granville Summit, leads the kitchen on Nov. 9, followed by culinary arts technology student Taylor L. Donahay, of Jersey Shore, on Nov. 11.

“I think the locals will like the marinated venison ham appetizer,” Donahay said. “The menu has classic Susque-Dutch entrees such as apple-lacquered pork and the ever-popular chicken and waffles.”

Nov. 16 and 18, the students will present a “New Orleans” menu, under the direction of culinary arts technology student Kari M. Elwell, of Little Marsh, on Nov. 16, and culinary arts and systems student Kristina M. Wisneski, of Whitehall, on Nov. 18.

“There are going to be a lot of Creole flavors, such as filé gumbo, seafood jambalaya rice salad, the Cajun Caesar salad, as well as other dishes on the menu,” Elwell said. “The selection of food will really give you a taste of New Orleans and how even Yankees can make good Southern food.”

The students will wrap up their semester with a hearty “New England” menu, presented Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 by culinary arts and systems student Chenoa M. Lindsay, of Williamsport, on Nov. 30, and culinary arts and systems student Christine M. Reed, on Dec. 2.

“My goal for this menu is for the guests to have a chance to eat a real New England meal without going far from home,” Reed said.

For complete menus and reservation information, visit on the Web or call 570-320-CHEF.

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Hospitality, visit online or call 570-327-4505.

For more about Penn College, visit online , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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