Monday, April 22, 2024

Calaloo Cafe to Open Next Week

You never know where the next Iron Chef may come from. It may be West Boca Raton Community High School.

If so, it will be due to the high school’s Academy of Culinary Arts program, which since its debut in 2004 has trained more than 300 students in cooking fundamentals and is now preparing to open its own student-staffed restaurant on campus.

Calaloo Cafe, as its name implies, will boast a laid-back tropical them-like “a cafe in the Keys,” says academy coordinator Susan Bantang. It will be staffed mainly by third and fourth-level culinary arts students, who will do everything from taking reservations to creating menus and preparing the food to serving paying customers in the 25-seat dining room. They’ll be working under the direction of Culinary Arts Department chairperson Nancy Hall, a former Culinary Institute of America grad who’s cooked as such estimable local restaurants as the old La Vieille Maison.

The menu is still under construction but it will change seasonally and offer daily specials at reasonable prices. Don’t get the wrong idea, though, Bantang says: “This is fine dining, not cafeteria food.”

It’s not quite an all-public restaurant, though. Business and media types, culinary industry professionals and local foodies who have donated time, equipment or in-kind services are members of the “Calaloo Consortium,” which entitles them to reserve space at the cafe.

Students at the school’s Art Club will do the decor, which will feature a tropical-themed mural, a 46-inch flat-screen TV that will display images of the cooks at work, and a variety of booths and large and small tables to give students the experience of serving patrons in several different settings.

Also on the menu of its Oct. 21 unveiling is the Cappucino Corner, a coffee bar to be dedicated to local chef Dominick Laudia, who over the years has been a mentor to many young chefs, perhaps the next Iron Chef among them.

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