By: Kirsten Rose
The reviews are in! And Ristorante Gladiatore è eccellente!
To give her culinary students a real restaurant experience with a feel for a fast-paced, high-pressure kitchen environment, Chef Katie Delaney and her culinary science program opened its doors to students, staff, and faculty, serving an Italian inspired menu that left guests looking forward to future dining experiences.
Open over four days in late April, nearly 120 patrons enjoyed a four-course prix fixe meal, including house-made pastas and sauces.
“It’s amazing how Chef Delaney was able to create a real restaurant experience in our school,” said social sciences teacher Kathy Watson. “The service was great and the food was unbelievable. The sorbets were probably my favorite part of the experience.”
Added principal Shawn Hastings-Hauf: “I loved the ambiance and the service was amazing. I am so impressed with the experience Chef Delaney and the culinary classes created. This event seemed difficult to create but every aspect was amazing and exceeded expectations.”
The blueprint for the in-house restaurant came while Delaney taught French pastry at L’Academie de Cuisine. There, she created in an event called "Plated dessert restaurant challenge" where she took reservations and had guests for a three-course dessert tasting.
To even make the restaurant a possibility at Glenelg, Delaney said she spent four years collecting enough equipment through fundraising efforts. Delaney also had to prepare by developing a menu, a work schedule, seating arrangements, and by considering food costs and ingredient availability.
With the assistance of her advanced culinary students, including seniors Evan Vilar, Katherine Miller, Ben Krakower, and junior Sage Rosas, who were instrumental in meal creation and preparation, and two culinary classes that helped with hosting, serving, and cleaning, what was once an idea, now became a reality.
“I was very proud of all the students who participated,” Delaney said. “My favorite part was seeing them make improvements and progress from the first to second service day. The difference and improvement that came with the second day was great.”
Delaney acknowledged that students in both culinary classes were faced with challenges they had never experienced before. Still, the end result, according to several culinary students who helped bring the restaurant to life, appreciated the opportunity to learn and grow.
“It was really cool how the class was able to come together to make this idea a reality,” said senior Claire Smith. “This experience was helpful and impactful because I was able to see how a real restaurant operates.”
Others in culinary, like junior Ellie Kim, learned that “being a waitress is very complicated and stressful and can be awkward at times. But the entire event exceeded my expectations since the food and service was so high quality.”
After the event, Delaney said she received overwhelming feedback from everyone who came to visit the restaurant. Several stopped to not only compliment the service, but to express their delight in how amazing the food was and ask about making future reservations.
“I think it’s going to be an instant tradition,” Delaney said. “The goal is to do this again at the same time each year with a new menu, but still using an Italian concept since it works so well into our curriculum of making scratch pasta and ice cream in advanced culinary, and learning about restaurant services in culinary.
“It was a true challenge for all of us to try something that was unfamiliar under a time restriction with paying customers. It demonstrated an adherence to teamwork, there was a clear sense of pride among the classes, and we look forward to doing it all again next year!”
Until then, Congratulazioni Gladiator Restaurant e buona fortuna!