Restaurant News: Edmonds College culinary students learn to pivot, more food truck fun — and snow what?

I recently reviewed food from the Triton Taste, the food truck that is an integral part of the culinary program at our local Edmonds College. I had a chance to have an email conversation — and have a few quick chats while waiting for food — with Chef Instructor Stacey Schwartz. She’s in place each week supporting the team of students who are cooking and preparing food for hungry customers that visit the truck every Thursday at the Dayton and 4th location in downtown Edmonds.

Edmonds College Café pastry case items

 

Readers need to know more about the rest of the Edmonds College program. During a recent visit to procure some items from the previously mentioned pastry case, at the café location on the Lynnwood campus, I met Chef Instructor for Culinary Arts Kevin Fogarty. He agreed to a chat on the phone and shared with me the details on the Capstone Project.

Students write the menu for the café, although it is only a “take-out” menu these days. They also complete one to six projects in the bakery program, which would normally culminate in an open house, 100 people in the room attending — sadly not possible these days.

A two-year degree in culinary and baking is normally what students pursue. COVID has changed their focus, away from operation of the café and bakery programs and more into the Triton Taste food truck.

“We never really got to launch the truck program properly last year.” Fogarty shared. “Pivot” is the key word for students in Edmonds College Culinary program. He outlined for me the five quarters in the curriculum that each culinary student accomplishes:

Quarter one is basic kitchen skill.

Quarter two, the students advance to sauces and other more complex cooking.

Quarter three, the students take a lead as a sous chef and working as a sauté.

In quarter four, students take leadership roles in the kitchen.

In quarter five, students take on roles as a sous chef to the professional instructors.

The baking program has five steps as well. Quarters progress from cookies to truffles to breads to specialty projects, and culminate in quarter five when students design their own desert line.

Fogarty noted that the Dessert Dash, a great moneymaker during the Edmonds College Foundation’s Gala culinary event, featured about 40 items, with each one feeding 10 people.

Now that the Triton Taste food truck has become a mainstay of the program, I observed, “This quarter’s curriculum seems to be focused on healthier eating, less animal protein, more vegetarian/vegan entrees and those fabulous vegan chocolate chip cookies — oh my.”

“The truck’s model is plant-forward recipes,” Chef Fogarty replied. He shared that items like jackfruit, which mimics pork but is not considered a meat substitute, star in the menu’s model.

Salmon quinoa salad at the Edmonds College Café
Café beet salad

“In the café it’s more of an upscale deli program — prepared salads are the focus,” Fogarty said. Choices on burgers are offered — for example, a black bean vegetarian one versus a beef patty. Entrees that offer animal protein — including a chicken curry, and a lentil stew featuring house-made sausage — join items like vegetarian chili on the menu.

I learned from Chef Fogarty that “local ingredients are always highly valued. The café uses smaller meat and seafood companies and local is the standard for most suppliers. Full Circle supplies seasonal and spring veggies like wild mushrooms that are foraged and local nettles. In the café, house-made items like ricotta cheese and bacon breads are part of the product offerings.” He shared praise with other team members too: “Chef Karen heads the baking program and they produce fabulous products.”

A pear tart from the Edmonds College Café.

 

Other projects? “There is a campus farm urban agriculture and it’s located in Woodinville,” he said.

I asked Fogarty about the future of the culinary program.

“The Triton Taste truck still leads the team,” he said. “Even with the opportunity to open the café at 25% capacity, it’s not enough space to book many meals and the decision is to allow students and family members to dine in at this point.”

A robust enrollment is needed to fill in the gaps at the café. The Edmonds College Foundation virtual gala is planned again this year on April 21-24, and features a four-course take away dinner.” (See details below.)

“Programs on campus food for the students — the dorm pantry and the food truck — are all integral to keep the program alive, but ultimately they need to have more bodies, as in students… this is the goal,” Fogarty said.

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Here are the details on the 2021 Edmonds College Foundation Gala, kindly provided by Development Manager Elaine Hall, Office of the President/ Edmonds College Foundation, and the person who is “all things Gala.”

“INSPIRE: Transformational Impact” will take place virtually April 21-24. Here’s the link: edmonds.edu/gala

Event activities include an online auction, virtually hosted parties and inspiring stories — and an appeal for folks to donate, of course.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit student success at Edmonds College through scholarships, emergency funding and innovative programming. Now in its 36th year, it is the college’s largest annual fundraiser.

Elaine Hall also shared the history of the culinary arts department’s involvement in the annual gala:

For many years, when the gala took place on campus, the department was directly involved with creating, prepping and serving a four-course meal for up to 200 guests at the event, “often with a celebrity chef who helped with the menu preparation and who would work with the students the night of the event,” Hall said.

When the gala got too large for the campus — the last in-person event had 360 people registered — the college moved it downtown Seattle hotel ballrooms. “With the student-created meals being such a draw for our guests, we came up with another idea to keep them involved — a Dessert Dash with unique desserts created by the students,” Hall said. “So for three years, they provided from 25-40 desserts for our guests to bid on. The desserts would sell from a range of
$50 per dessert all the way up to $700. Half the proceeds of the dessert dash is provided back to the culinary arts department.”

When COVID hit in 2020, the live gala event went virtual and plans had to pivot in less than three months. “Working with the culinary department, we decided to continue providing desserts via an online auction/dessert dash,” Hall said. Edmonds College’s culinary group made 15 desserts for guests to virtually bid on, and those desserts were delivered to the winning bidder on day two of the event.

For the 2021 virtual gala, culinary arts students will again be cooking for the event, Hall said, preparing up to 200 four-course meals that will be sold in two meals per box (so 100 boxes). Meals will be purchased online starting in March and will be available for pickup on the first day of the event. Half of the proceeds of the meals will again go to support the Culinary Arts Program.

The menu for this year’s “meals to go” is:

1st course:  Asparagus, pickled vegetables, parsley lemon vinaigrette

2nd course: Roasted herb crusted cauliflower steaks, broth infused gigante beans, farro, smoked tomatoes, chili garlic oil

3rd course: Braised short ribs, jus, potato and fennel gratin, roasted spice baby carrots, or

Polenta cakes, turnip and wild mushroom ragout, roasted spice baby carrots

Dessert: Profiterole kit: Cream puffs, pastry cream, chocolate sauce

Thank you, Elaine Hall. I hope that sharing this delicious menu will incite folks to click on that link and participate!

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Good news: The return of Salt & Iron brunch, beginning this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Make a reservation at saltniron.com. Cheers!

And happy hour is back at Bar Dojo.

Featuring pork gyoza — fried pork and chive gyoza, ginger, garlic, chili oil, and soy. Happy hour runs from 4-6 p.m. and 8 p.m.-close every day. Available for dine-in only.

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When life hands you a ton of snow… what do you do? Friends show up to help with cleanup. Some entrepreneurs make snow people! Your team pulls together and like the postal service, they brave the weather to deliver, in this case bread… and loyal customers brave the elements to support your business.

Edmonds-based Cottage Community Bakery owner Conor O’Neill expressed via social media his gratitude for the dedication of his baking team and for customers who braved the weather to buy bread at the Saturday Perrinville neighborhood popup location.

Photo courtesy Cottage Community Bakery

“It was great to see so many of you and quite a few new faces of folks who were able to walk, from the surrounding neighborhoods,” O’Neill said. “In other news, Betsy, the Wheat Wagon, safely returned to The Cottage and is running smoothly and helped us make it through the snow.”

At Edmonds’ Salish Sea Brewing Company, owner Jeff Barnett woke up to find nearly 8 inches covering his canopies. “I had massive anxiety about this being caved in,” said Barnett. “It’s just weird that it snowed so heavy. We weren’t ready for the massive ‘snow apocalypse’ that hit us.”

Barnett said he managed to fortify the outdoor dining areas as best as he could, sweeping off the snow into the street. Then he got creative.

“We made snowmen out of it,” he said. “We had no other place to put the snow so we put in the garbage cans and made a wall of snowmen.”

Salish Sea snowmen (Photo courtesy Jeff Barnett)

Best Valentine’s Day gift ever: Friends pitched in at Mountlake Terrace’s Hemlock State Brewing when snow covered their outdoor dining area.

Shoveling snow outside Hemlock State Brewing in Mountlake Terrace.

Owners posted thanks on Facebook: “Huge shoutout to our neighbors who brought shovels down to help dig out space for our outside seating. We’re so glad to be your neighbors.”

Speaking of neighbors: Friday night, Feb. 19, Edmonds business Yummy Box is back at the Hemlock State Brewing curb from 4-7 p.m. They serve up a delicious menu of Asian fusion street foods that pair well with beer, say Hemlock Brewery folks, who’ve scheduled regular visits from several local food trucks

Look for a Restaurant News review on Yummy Box next week… here’s  a preview:

— By Kathy Passage

A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

 

 

 

 

 

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