Imagine a restaurant
ready to serve you and 25 of your closest friends. Imagine that
you can plan the menu, learn a bit about each course as it is served,
and then enjoy a glorious six-course meal. No, you are not a judge
on Bravo's hit television series, "Top Chef." You are,
in fact, enjoying an evening in the Culinary Center at Mercer County
That was the
experience for Julio Menendez of Hamilton, his wife Pam, and a group
of their luckiest friends. In 2006, at the MCCC Scholarship Gala's
silent auction, Menendez had bid on the "MCCC Restaurant Fantasy
Dinner." He recently cashed in on his prize in honor of his
wife's birthday. According to MCCC Hospitality Program Coordinator
Chef Doug Fee, he and Mrs. Menendez sat down together to develop
a detailed menu that reflected her culinary preferences.
received an education with each course that was served," Fee
said. "We discussed elements such as preparation methods, sauces,
and flavor combinations." The meal began with a crudite platter,
followed by a salad of assorted greens with tomatoes, goat cheese,
dried cranberries and walnuts. A fish course featured pan-seared
sea bass, fennel and olives and was followed by Proscuitto Chicken
with asparagus. The main course included roasted tenderloin and
Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. The splendid feast concluded with homemade
Julio Menendez, the evening was truly an affair to remember. "We
had a great time. Everything was executed very professionally. It
went well beyond our expectations. I want to express my gratitude
to Doug and his staff for a job well done."
to 12 student volunteers from the MCCC Hospitality program, Mercer's
all-star staff included Chef Claire Berg, a certified chef, registered
dietician and MCCC adjunct faculty member; Chef Bill Conrad, an
alumnus of the Philadelphia Restaurant School and former head of
restaurant operations for Macy's; and Chef Jeff Cousminer, a certified
research chef with Fimenich and former executive chef at The Frog
and the Peach Restaurant. Bread, rolls and dessert were prepared
by two MCCC alumni and adjunct instructors, Chef Anne Lumberger,
a graduate of the New York Institute of Culinary Arts, and Rita
Bohlumbohn, a pastry chef at the Hyatt Regency Princeton.
a terrific experience for our students," Fee said. "They
were working alongside a tremendous amount of talent in the kitchen.
They got an understanding of how to execute an event like this at
the highest of standards."
members interested in having a party of their own, Chef Fee will
teach "Dinner Party," a one-session class offered
through Mercer's noncredit division, on Saturday, May 12 from 6
to 9:30 p.m. Designed for singles, couples and small groups, participants
will serve as both chef and guest when they learn hands-on techniques
in the kitchen and then sit down to a three-course meal they have
helped to prepare. The cost for the class is $56 per person. To
learn more or to register, call (609) 570-3311 or email ComEd@mccc.edu.
To view more
noncredit courses at Mercer, click here.