Stylish dining at Cafe NFA

Vanessa Marcano

Vanessa Marcano

It is lunchtime and stomachs all across campus are growling in expectation of a tasty meal. The Market, Medary or Larson Commons are all valid alternatives, but what if a student’s palate is demanding a more refined taste and upscale ambience?

The future gourmands of South Dakota have an option to satisfy students’ hunger for flavorful meals and a chic dining experience at Café NFA.

Starting on Feb. 9 and going every Tuesday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until April 20, upper-division dietetics majors transform room 429 of the Nursing, Family and Consumer Sciences building into a stylish bistro atmosphere.

There, students and faculty can enjoy a multiple-course menu complete with dessert for $7.75, while getting the chance to evaluate their peers’ management and culinary skills in an entirely student-run food operation.

Café NFA is part of the Quantity Foods Production & Service class for dietetics and hospitality majors. Hae Jin Yoon, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Hospitality, is in charge of teaching students to run large-scale food operations such as these in restaurants, hospitals or non-profit organizations.

Yoon said the class is divided into several teams who have the responsibility of carrying out the entire dining experience, which includes devising a suitable menu, budgeting costs, making food purchases from providers, marketing the event and preparing and serving a meal for up to 40 guests. Even the décor and the choice of music are up to the students.

Each of the teams is further divided into management and workforce, in which the management takes care of more administrative tasks, while the workforce gets down to the nitty-gritty of executing the project.

One of the themes developed for meals at Café NFA is “A Taste of Europe,” said senior dietetics major Joanna Strom, whose team will serve Swedish meatballs, baby carrots, Greek salad and German chocolate cake March 2. Strom said one of the most important things she has learned in the class is all the “behind- the-scenes” work that goes into a restaurant operation.

“The multiplication process is the most challenging, because we have to convert a small recipe into something fit for 40 guests while still maintaining good quality and flavor,” Strom said.

Timing is also a key factor, since the food must be ready when diners arrive while still remaining fresh and at an adequate temperature, Strom said.

Junior dietetics major Anne McCann said an important lesson from the class has been cost control and budgeting. Yoon said if a certain recipe’s budget went over due to issues like expensive ingredients, students had to figure out a way to solve the problem effectively.

“If some ingredients are too expensive, they may consider other options such as buying canned [ingredients],” Yoon said.

Marketing the event was also a difficult factor, the students said.

“It was challenging, getting the word out through posters, making it known,” said McCann, whose team will be serving April 6.

Café NFA students are graded on various criteria, including the food’s taste, texture, presentation, nutrition and cost.

Next time students are wondering what will satisfy their cravings for gourmet or if they are simply wishing to change your routine, they should consider a Tuesday lunch at Café NFA. To eat at Café NFA, diners should make reservations in advance by calling 688-5656. Vegetarian meals are available upon request.

Check out the variety of meals

A full list of upcoming menus is listed on Café NFA’s Web site.