Dine at Londons singular student-run restaurant
Located in the heart of downtown London is Fanshawe’s student-run restaurant, The Chef’s Table. Seating approximately 80 people, The Chef’s Table provides a learning space for students to gain hands-on kitchen experience as well as serving the public with both locally sourced food and international cuisine. Dining at The Chef’s Table takes place between Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
This restaurant is a learning environment for students where they can experience guidance from professional chefs. With that, the students still maintain a lot of control in the restaurant. Chef instructor, Lesther Hornilla indicated that even the menus are student created.
“Part of their project is to create a tasting menu at the end of their school term and then items from this are then used for the restaurant menu,” Hornilla said.
One of the features that I love about this restaurant is the student interaction with customers. Chef Hornilla acknowledged that students are assigned the role of Chef of the Day, where they get to experience all aspects of this role.
“Part of their duties is to go out and talk to customers and ask how their dinner is or how their dinner was, how the experience is, and they get the experience to have an interaction with customers,” Hornilla said.
Culinary Management student Franklin Gonzales III was the Chef of the Day when I visited, and he explained that his role included managing the students for that day and how that prepares him for after his program.
Professor and Chef Patrick Hersey said that watching the improvement of his students throughout the term is a rewarding experience.
“It’s one of the things about our program that I’m the most proud of,” Hersey said. “The fact that we have the restaurant there provides the students with that real-life experiential learning. The training they’re getting is no different than if they were working in any other restaurant in the city.”
Additionally, Chef Hornilla said that the last few weeks of the semester is when the students are truly running the kitchen on their own.
“As we just step back and watch them do it, is a very proud moment,” Chef Hornilla said.
Culinary Management student Larissa Moore from Sarnia expressed her career aspirations of becoming a chef.
“I’ve worked in kitchens before, prior to coming to culinary school, but the experiences and techniques I’ve learned here are phenomenal. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Moore said.
For hockey fans, The Chef’s Table also has a weekly Friday Knights special between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“This is designed for people who are going to the game so they can come in early, have a quick meal and still get to the Knights game on time” Chef Hersey said.
Overall, visiting The Chef’s Table is a great opportunity for students to support students in their learning environment and have a great meal at the same time! If you aren’t a student, I still encourage you to call The Chef’s Table and make a reservation to experience what the students have to offer.