Auburn Student Chefs Earn Five Stars – Geauga Maple Leaf | Directory Mayhem

I’ve never been a food critic—hell, I wouldn’t know a “fine palate” if it pounded my taste buds. But I feel pretty confident giving two thumbs up to the student chefs at Auburn Room Restaurant.

I’ve never been a food critic—hell, I wouldn’t know a “fine palate” if it pounded my taste buds. But I feel pretty confident giving two thumbs up to the student chefs at Auburn Room Restaurant.

The restaurant, staffed exclusively by Auburn Career Center students both in the kitchen and at the table, will open for lunch once a week on Thursdays beginning Oct. 20.

Under the guidance of culinary instructor Amy Ryan, ACC culinary students prepared a fall tasting menu for a select group of local media and Auburn officials. We were treated to a taste of gourmet delights on October 7th as students worked to make last-minute improvements ahead of the official opening.

A sausage spread with bacon rolls, brie and fresh fruit was first offered on boards made by ACC students and stamped with the school’s logo. Ryan said most of the skills students learn in their cooking classes are transferrable to other areas, and most kids come with very little experience in the kitchen.

Some of the fall dishes we sampled included cheddar and chive pierogi, parmesan-crusted chicken, blackened shrimp ratatouille, and a harvest gumbo prepared by Berkshire senior Slade Blair.

Blair, who has the charisma, charm and confidence to be the next big TV celebrity chef, said he wanted to make a pumpkin and crayfish harvest gumbo because he prefers to use local, fresh ingredients.

“I wanted pumpkin on the menu but not for dessert,” he said. “I’m good at cooking, and I prefer soups and stews.”

Blair said he grew up hunting crawfish in local streams, which helped inspire the dish. People who dine at the Auburn Room Restaurant can expect dishes from a variety of cuisines, he added.

“We strive for unique dishes, but well-known dishes; something imaginable, but a new experience,” he said.

Emily Pinney, a Madison senior, said that dining at the Auburn Room Restaurant is a great way to experience the creations of future chefs and see how they do things their own way.

“It’s not just about cooking for us. We’re each other’s families,” she said. “I like that we have unconventional ideas and can be as creative as we want.”

A benefit for early tasters was a double offering of dressing for the delicious apple and kale salad. The table was favorably divided between a fresh lemon cilantro dressing and my favorite balsamic maple. But no matter which one the students ultimately choose, both were better than most homemade dressings I’ve tried.

Blair’s Harvest Gumbo was a favorite among tasters and many students, but I have to admit that my heart was won over by Riverside Senior Sara Myers’ cream-filled beignets.

Unlike traditional beignets — a powdered sugar-dusted donut popular in New Orleans — Myers opted to fill hers with a delicious pastry cream and drizzle them with caramel sauce. I may have run out of room for more salad, but I magically had enough for three of their delightful donuts. Don’t tell my kids, please.

Auburn Superintendent Brian Bontempo was unable to attend the tasting but expressed his pride in the ACC’s culinary students.

“We always strive to provide an innovative learning experience to enable our students to excel in their chosen workplace. We’re proud of the Auburn Room Restaurant and that it’s open so people can see our students at work,” he said. “It really enriches the community.”

If you’re looking to fuel up on some delicious fall food, take my advice and try the Auburn Room Restaurant. If you’re not able to enjoy the full lunchtime experience, the restaurant also offers a take-away selection during opening hours.

The food is prepared by the same talented Auburn kids and is just the cost.

Ryan said that each year a new class comes in with fresh ideas and that brings joy to their work. She wasn’t surprised by her students’ enthusiasm as she detailed the ingredients and described the inspiration behind her fall menu ideas.

“It’s our passion for cooking that makes it so easy to talk to you about it,” Pinney said.

She plans to specialize in culinary arts and hospitality management. Ryan said that one day she may see Pinney run a five-star resort.

I’m the first in line at the buffet.

The Auburn Room Restaurant, 8140 Auburn Road, Concord Township, is open Thursdays from 12:00pm to 1:30pm beginning October 20th by prior reservation. Reservations can be made by calling 440-357-7542

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