Technique offers student-prepared three-course meals for $10

Categories: Food
Le Cordon Bleu
Technique serves halibut with a side of tomatoes, peas, and corn and fava bean succotash.
Formerly the Minnesota Room, Technique is a restaurant staffed by students at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Mendota Heights. Technique offers a three-course lunch for $10, or a four-course dinner for $15. Despite the name change (and the restaurant's move from its Brown College location to the Le Cordon Bleu facility last month), the menu remains virtually unchanged. "It's the same restaurant that we've been running for 10 years, but under the corporate umbrella, all the restaurants in all the [Le Cordon Blue] culinary school campuses in North America have been renamed Technique" for better name recognition, explains restaurant manager and chef instructor Pierre Rabbia. The concept of the restaurant is to teach students the classical French cooking technique, which the culinary school is known for. Working at Technique is actually a class for students--the last class on campus, after which they begin their externship under the supervision of a professional chef. Technique is open to the public for lunch all year long, serving Tuesdays through Fridays. It will be open for dinner as well during the holiday season (and times of year when there are evening classes scheduled), but seating must be completed between 5:30 and 6:30. "We find that the Mediterranean food is well-suited for the cooking techniques that we want to teach our students," says Rabbia, but he points out that French culinary techniques can be used in various types of cuisine. Take grilling, for example. "We're not just doing a grilled tuna ... we could do anything. We could grill a chicken breast, we could grill a piece of beef, we could grill a piece of tuna. As long as the students are learning, they can take it to the upper level and be able to adapt that technique to anything they want to grill. So we are not limiting the students to just learning one dish or several dishes, we are teaching them the skill to be able to succeed in the industry," he says. The dishes served are certainly varied. Meals begin with a selection of starters, including various salads, shrimp risotto, and a flatbread or pizza special. The menu features a wide variety of entrees, including salmon, halibut, chicken, braised beef rib, pork schnitzel, and a lamb burger with a bit of Greek influence--feta cheese and tomato. Seasonal produce accompanies the main courses, of course, and sides include roasted baby artichokes, braised red cabbage, vegetable risotto, and more. The menu has several dessert options, including chocolate mousse, cheesecake, fruit crumble, and more.
Le Cordon Bleu
One entree option is pork schnitzel served with braised red cabbage, spaetzle, and sauce charcuterie.
One of the challenges of running a student-led restaurant is that these are chefs-in-training, not yet experienced cooks. "The students are here to learn, so they are not yet up to speed," Rabbia explains. Because the school emphasizes safety, it sometimes takes students time to improve their pace. And although mistakes are limited, they do occur, though guests tend to be understanding. And the students in the kitchen have instructors nearby to shadow and direct them, and help them adjust for any inconsistencies. "It's not perfect, but we definitely supervise them, and by the end, because of the time they spent in the restaurant, they have grown and perfected their culinary skills," he says. Eating a three-course meal prepared by students also has its benefits. "It's fun to see the students. When you see the students preparing the food and serving the food, they have so much pride. You could see they have so much passion," Rabbia says. "When a customer asks a student to explain the food, they explain it with so much passion that it's mouth-watering." Technique is open for lunch, with seating from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5:30 to 6:30. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 651.286.2400, or through Open Table. Dress is semi-casual. The restaurant is at 1315 Mendota Heights Rd., 
Mendota Heights.

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