By Kady Fox, Steve Benton, and Lisa Atkinson

Working as a team is something that we practice at Walnut Hill College on a daily basis. Although teamwork is not often talked about, every student contributes to the flow of service. Teamwork benefits us greatly while we work together in the classrooms, and it helps us even more in our production and operation classes. Together, we all work through a system to accomplish an overall goal.

Teamwork at this College has a large role in all classroom settings. For pastry students, production in the morning requires the students to work together to produce all products for the Pastry Shop as well as desserts for dinner service later that evening. One specific example of teamwork shown by pastry students would be the production of bread. Individual students are required to communicate and interact during each step of mixing, shaping, proofing, and baking to produce the final product.

Our culinary students fulfill three different types of production-based classes. The first of these is morning production. In this classroom, students prepare food for morning service in the Pastry Shop and are required to fulfill guests’ needs upon request. The students communicate with one another in terms of replenishing and restocking items in the Pastry Shop. Students are also required to help prep food for lunch production, which follows shortly after. Lunch production necessitates multiple tasks in the kitchen. Students are not only producing food for the public but are also given the opportunity to create dishes for prospective students during luncheons for visiting high schools.

Dinner service requires teamwork from both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house students. Our College has four different restaurants, which are open to the public. Dinner production takes place in two of our six kitchens, which means that the production of food can come out of either kitchen. Communication is ideal during dinner service, because both management and culinary students need to work together for the flow of the service to be successful. Culinary students prep and cook and also have to learn all of the menus being served. The culinary students are required to have one front-of-the-house class to understand the importance of service and the relationship between management and the culinary and pastry side of restaurant operations.

During dinner service, teamwork among management students takes on a huge role. Each student is designated a spot throughout service, which requires them individually to fulfill their tasks. Management relies on the culinary students to produce and turn out dishes in a timely manner upon request from the front-of-the-house. But for this to happen, communication is key. Allergies, dietary restrictions, and special occasions are all standard information that both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house should be aware of before dinner service begins. Also, if there should be any mistakes, complaints, or incidents, everyone should be aware of the situation and be ready to correct everything to make the guest satisfied to the best of our ability.

At our College, we have multiple departments that contribute to the daily success of production as well as service. Pastry and culinary combined help transition from morning to lunch production, maintaining guest satisfaction during the process. From lunch to dinner service, management and culinary students focus on communication and teamwork to help run restaurants that are open to the public. In a full day’s worth of classes, each student gains the skills to communicate and work with their fellow students, which, as a result, helps them to hone their teamwork tactics and contribute to the success of the College as a whole.

Kady Fox, Student Leader
Hotel Management, Class of July 2017

Steve Benton, Student Leader
Restaurant Management, Class of July 2018

Getting involved on campus makes the college experience

By Daniel Singer and Jasmine Harmon

It is very well known that getting involved in college activities will present you with many benefits. The U.S. News Higher Education site has a list of ways that getting involved in college activities will help students prosper, and it also gives some broad ways that students can have fun getting involved; however, every college is different. Making the full college experience is more than just doing classwork and forming study groups. It is also about bettering yourself and constantly learning, especially here at Walnut Hill College. Along with doing great in your studies, you will notice that many students build friendships with fellow classmates and teachers by bonding over similar interests and life- and industry-related goals. Students grow with their classmates, gaining new skills and abilities from their classes that they can show out in the workforce. Walnut Hill College constantly provides ways for students to get involved on campus and to have fun while learning new things, from clubs to job fairs to Student Life and Learning activities and more.

Be sure to check out our Student Life page by clicking here!

The following are some accounts from Jasmine Harmon on ways she has gotten involved on campus:

Since coming to Walnut Hill College I have noticed how beneficial getting involved in campus functions can be. From making new friends with classmates to networking with industry professionals, there is always a chance to further your understanding of the hospitality industry. The Student Life and Learning point system at the College is a great system that allows students to get away from some stress in their life and learn about topics that they are very interested in. There are over 30 different clubs and activities that students can attend throughout the week, from Hospitality Engagement Club and Wine Club to Disney Club and Napkin Folding Club, there is always something new to experience. During those clubs, students learn about something new that interests them and they get to share that new knowledge with friends and family.

In my second term at Walnut Hill College, while attending the Student Life and Learning Awards Ceremony, I encountered a few upperclassmen who went above and beyond getting their mandatory minimum of five points a term by getting around 80 points for one term. Those upperclassmen said that they got those points by having a combination of a passion for what they do and a dedication to their goal of always wanting to learn more. That was an eye-opening moment for me because I saw how getting involved on campus could push you to keep your mind open to new possibilities, and it showed me that, to progress in the hospitality industry, sometimes you need a focused mindset on finishing what you started.

Another way that I have seen students get involved on campus would be volunteering during Community Education classes held at the College for the public. Community Education classes focus on different cuisines and food styles for people interested in learning certain aspects of cooking and baking, taught by chefs from Walnut Hill College and sometimes chefs from local, well-known restaurants. In those classes, volunteers may be asked to assist the chefs while they teach the class or to help serve the food that the students cooked so they can have an enjoyable dining experience. People from all over Philadelphia and sometimes other areas come to the classes, and it is learning experience for both them and our student volunteers.

-Jasmine Harmon, Student Leader
Restaurant Management, Class of July 2018

The following are some accounts from Daniel Singer on ways he has gotten involved on campus:

Since I started at Walnut Hill College in 2014, one of the first things I noticed was how active the campus was in terms of clubs and student activities. Seeing this activity and having the weight of knowing I had to attend at least five events every term seemed like a big deal to someone who just started college and wasn’t sure how college worked. As I started attending these clubs, such as the Cocktail and Wine Clubs with Professor McCartney, Hospitality Engagement Club with Professor Brooks, and Coffee and Tea Club with Ms. Copp, I realized how easy and how awesome it was to start getting involved on campus.

Since the beginning of my first year, I have been pushed into some awesome responsibilities by going to these clubs. For example, I was able to help get students involved with the Community Education classes and the Wine Challenge dinners with Professor McCartney, where we had to study two or three specific wines and present them to about 20 people. Getting involved with these activities, for me, opened doors in the College that I otherwise would not have had opened. Activities like these allow students to connect with teachers and get involved in the hospitality industry in very specific ways. Attending these events, while it is mandatory that we get a minimum of five points a term, is a way of creating a positive, active vibe on campus.

From a professional standpoint, hosting events that create reasons for people to come together is one of the most important aspects of the hospitality business. Creating a network of students who can be each other’s greatest asset when building or working in a business one day is also an awesome thing to be a part of. From a student’s standpoint, having events that keep you engaged and give you reasons to get through college is one of the best motivations we could have.

-Daniel Singer, Student Leader
Restaurant Management, Class of July 2017

Bon Voyage: Traveling the Globe Without Leaving the City

By: Stephen App

Pop-ups, both in the form of restaurants and beer gardens, have become kind of a thing in Philadelphia in recent summers. But Walnut Hill College isn’t waiting for bright sunshine and hotter temperatures to launch their own pop-up restaurant. Instead, their latest pop-up restaurant, Bon Voyage, is already open for business. And after having dinner there, I can assure you, you shouldn’t wait for the summer to experience one of Philadelphia’s most underrated dining spots.

Pop-up restaurants are nothing new to Walnut Hill College, as they tend to host one iteration per academic term. But the Bon Voyage concept is unique to this year’s graduating students in the Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Restaurant Management, and Hotel Management bachelor programs, who pitched the concept of the restaurant based on the study abroad locations WHC students participate in.

Krissy Alfes and Connor Bodnar, 2 of the 17 graduating students who created Bon Voyage, say they hoped to capture the highlights of their student experience. Students may start their culinary journey in Philadelphia, they say, but during their time at Walnut Hill College, students in the Management associate programs travel to Florida and the Bahamas, while Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts associate students travel to France. Prior to graduating this summer, students in all bachelor’s degree programs will travel to England.

Bon Voyage Student Leaders

Alfes says she feels an immense sense of pride in the concept, as it allows students from every program the opportunity to share their stories and inspiration through food. “We all went to the same places, but we all had different experiences,” adds Bodnar.

In reality, it’s that endearing concept, and the manner in which Bodnar, Alfes, and their peers execute it, that makes this pop-up restaurant worth visiting before it closes on April 15. Because while the food is fantastic, that alone isn’t enough to separate Bon Voyage from the multitude of exquisite restaurants in this underrated culinary city.

Instead, where Bon Voyage excels is in the service, the conversation, and the way in which patrons are transported to sandy beaches and Parisian side streets with each course. That’s especially refreshing at a time when dining out often dissolves into a group of individuals silently peeking at their phones under the table.

The students of Bon Voyage make it their mission throughout the dining experience to take diners on a vicarious journey without having to leave the table. There’s the fried conch appetizer, for example, served with a mango salsa and avocado crema, that Bodnar selected from a humorous memory of his first day in the Bahamas, when he and a few friends were led by a local through winding streets that culminated in Bodnar eating fresh conch right out of the water.

Duck Confit Salad Bon Voyage

Or there’s the duck confit, served on a bed of kale with a citrus vinaigrette dressing. Alfes chose the dish because of a particularly memorable day in Paris, when she and a friend found themselves caught in between a taxi riot and a Palestinian-Israeli conflict near the Arc De Triomphe. In an effort to distance themselves from the rapidly converging crowds, they stumbled across a small side street and a little café. Alfes says when they decided to sit down and order a late lunch, she decided she “just wanted a salad.”

Instead, Alfes says, “when I got the salad presented in front of me, it’s just this mound of salad greens and wrapped right around the edge of the plate there was this beautiful cured duck breast and it had this delicious citrus vinaigrette that the greens were tossed in. I was sitting there with this little espresso right next to me and my friend and I are just sitting there going through my Nikon, just looking at all of these riot pictures, all of the things that we were looking at all day.”

Her voice trails off at this point in the story, and after a small pause, she breaks into a beaming smile. “I want to go back,” she says. It’s a story that Alfes likely gets to tell each night, but as she recalls that late afternoon impromptu lunch, it’s easy to feel as though you are the first person she has shared an intimate memory with.

And it’s not just the fried conch or duck confit that tells a story. Every item on the menu – including appetizers, entrées, and desserts – is inspired by a student’s study abroad experience, while each cocktail features a popular spirit or beer from the region that inspired it.

A Chef Prepares a Bon Voyage Dish

In the end, says Bodnar, the goal of Bon Voyage is to help patrons, “understand the three years we spent at this school. It’s not all about the classroom; it’s about the experiences that we encountered.”

Adds Alfes, “we want you to have these dishes in front of you and see them from someone else’s perspective. I want someone to look at the duck salad the same way I can instead of just thinking, “this is a good duck salad.”

So while you wait for Philly’s warmer weather and pop-up beer gardens, consider a vicarious journey to Paris, Florida, or the Bahamas. Bon Voyage is currently accepting reservations from 5:30-10:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, until April 15. Reservations can be made by phone at 215-222-4200 or on OpenTable.