Le Jeune Chef: A unique experience
An international dining experience can be found tucked away on the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus as Le Jeune Chef Restaurant offers a unique experience both for students and dining guests alike in Williamsport.
Le Jeune Chef, translated from French as “the young chef,” has students studying for pastry and culinary arts at Penn College work in the restaurant setting, getting hands on experience to train their cooking skills as well as the broader experience of understanding how a restaurant works.
“The restaurant is a collaboration between the School of Business and Hospitality and the restaurant … It’s a mix between the faculty, professional staff and the students. On any given night, there could be a class in the kitchen actually preparing the food, cooking everything,” said Mike Triassi, director of sales and operations.
The restaurant typically serves two dinners a night and one or two lunches a day, during the semester. The menus often change with the school semester, depending on what the students are studying.
“There’s several different programs that come in … but they learn everything you need from beginning to end of the operation,” said Stephen Manley, executive chef.
The senior classes prepare the restaurant meals, but even the beginning students start out learning their way around the professional kitchen with all the modern technology.
“The beginning classes, it’s just learn how to slice, dice, chop, bake and all the beginning things. Once they get the beginning part of the class, they gradually move up to the more to more production,” Manley said.
The most popular classes are the regional and classical courses, and the restaurant often hosts five to seven course meals with those classes available for patrons to enjoy. Wednesdays have regional course dinners, and Thursdays have classical course dinners.
“We’re pretty successful with those dinners, and we sell out most of those nights,” Triassi said.
Year round, an a la carte menu is available as well.
The restaurant opened in 1984. Today, there are 170 students enrolled in the program with the restaurant, with 20 usually working in the kitchen at a time.
“There’s constantly students in the restaurant, in the back and the front of the house,” Triassi said.
“My entire staff is students that have either needed to do an internship or once they’ve completed an internship, we continue to work with them,” Manley said.
There are also integrated workers in the restaurant, where many of the students learn to wait tables and work in different roles in the restaurant.
“We give them great experience, more experience than just classwork when we hire them. They can come in and practice their skills,” Manley said.
“They get first hand experience. You really can’t get that in most other culinary schools. A lot of the students are aspiring chefs that didn’t expect to be in the front of the house. It gives them a good understanding of how the whole operation works,” Triassi said.
The restaurant also offers catering, and the students learn catering aspects, like packing up equipment and cooking on site.
“We like to say this is a casual, fine dining experience that you can’t get outside of this college. It’s unique, and we have a very extensive wine list that pairs with our food,” Triassi said.