SGTC culinary arts program kicks off series

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

AMERICUS — South Georgia Technical College’s (SGTC) culinary arts students went tropical recently, setting up a pop-up restaurant in the college’s Hicks Hall “Landings” Restaurant and serving authentic Jamaican cuisine to family, friends, community members and SGTC faculty and staff as part of their hands-on curriculum.
The Jamaican day was part of an international series the class is exploring. Each Thursday until the end of July, the class of 23 students, headed by instructor Chef Ricky Watzlowick and adjunct instructor Corcynthia Monts, will prepare foods from a different nationality and serve them at the pop-up restaurant, which offers dine-in seating and to-go plates.
The menu consisted of traditional Jamaican foods such as jerk chicken, honey roasted pepper pork loin, curry chicken, pepper shrimp, baked lemon pepper tilapia, rice and beans, steamed cabbage, scalloped potatoes and broccoli casserole. The menu also included several appetizers and desserts. A total of 46 people passed through the line to get a taste of the tropics — including guests from Warner Robins, Statesboro and Atlanta.

A family of seven, some from Statesboro and some from Atlanta, met together in the middle to have lunch and support their relative and SGTC culinary arts student Miya Ford.

The series is designed to help the culinary arts students get the hands-on experience of working at and owning a restaurant while still learning from their instructors.
“I like the whole process,” Miya Ford, a culinary arts student from Decatur, said about her experience from the day. “I’m trying to own my own restaurant one day, so I like everything from serving the customers, to making the food, and I actually like when somebody orders something and I have to call it back, like ‘we need more jalapeno poppers!’ You know, the whole restaurant experience. It was fun.”
Each of the students played a critical role in the operation of the restaurant — with some serving food, cleaning tables, preparing food, serving drinks, doing the dishes, managing the restaurant and even marketing the event. At the end of the six-week series, each student will have circled through each job, helping them to gain experience in all fields of the restaurant industry.
Watzlowick and Monts both agreed that their students did an outstanding job for it being their first time in that situation.
“For the past two years we haven’t been able to do these events … so this was their first time doing this kind of thing,” Watzlowick said. “So, I think everything went well. Of course, they’ll continue to learn and grow as they go on. But we had a good turnout today, and hopefully that will grow over the next few weeks.”
“We’re working with a fresh group of people who really have not cooked,” Monts added. “So, for this being their first time, they did well.”
Each plate costs $7 and comes with two entrees, two sides and a drink, with an optional $3 appetizer and $3 dessert. All of the money that was raised will go into buying groceries and supplies for the following week.
The culinary arts class visited Mexican cuisine on June 21, Italian fare on June 28, Hawaiian on July 12, and will visit Chinese on July 20 and will bring it all home with a barbecue event on July 26.