Emily Griffith Technical College
, at 1860 Lincoln Street, has reopened Emily's Cafe
, a place that allows its culinary students to get hands-on cooking experience. "We really wanted the students to cook in front of their customers," says chef Tim Inzano, who has been an instructor at the school for 24 years.
Emily's Cafe, which had been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, is fully operated by the students at Emily Griffith, who are in charge of making the food as well as serving it. The setup includes many different stations, from a deli where sandwiches and paninis are made to order to an omelet station where eggs are cooked to order.
While it was difficult for many colleges throughout the country to transition online when the pandemic shut down in-person learning, it was particularly hard at Emily Griffith, where classes are 90 percent hands-on. "It was definitely a challenge," Inzano admits. As an instructor in the school's culinary arts program, he puts an emphasis on making sure students know cooking methods instead of just learning recipes in order to better prepare them for future jobs.
A student prepares vegetables for the school's annual soup giveaway, which happens on Emily Griffith's birthday every February.
New students start off in a classroom setting for about two weeks, learning the basics before they are put to work in the cafe, where their fellow classmates teach them the ropes of each station. Once a student demonstrates mastery of a certain station, they can move on to the next. Eventually, students have the opportunity to be promoted to sous chef. "If I can see them teaching and showing a new student how to do their station, I know that they really got it and are ready to move on to another station," says Inzano.
Kyle Lawson has been a student at the college for just a few months, but has been a cook for seven years. He's already worked his way up to having his own stir-fry station during the lunch rush; it's such a hit that there's a line nearly winding outside each time the cafe is open for business — an encouraging sign for an up-and-coming chef. "I hope to open up my own restaurant sometime soon," he says.
The school has also reopened Emily's Salon and Barbershop, where students training to be barbers and cosmetologists offer services to the public. Both the salon and the cafe have affordable prices, making their offerings some of the best deals in the city.
Emily's Cafe is located at 1860 Lincoln Street and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for lunch Monday through Wednesday. For more information, visit emilygriffith.edu/emilys-cafe.