Students leading way in summer John Purdue Room lunches

July 8, 2013  

The idea was too delicious for the highly regarded School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to resist. This summer, senior students are providing the hands-on management of other students preparing and serving lunches in the John Purdue Room.

The restaurant in Marriott Hall, which serves fine foods as a classroom during semesters, is doing double duty in a somewhat rare summer run. Students in HTM 291 are learning to do lunch, as in fall and spring, but students in HTM 492 are their managers, learning those roles through doing. That twist is a first.

"It's something the curriculum was missing -- it's real hands-on experience," says Courtney Wade, one of the eight students in 492, who alternate days in teams of four. "It's hard to teach verbally. We are responsible for the service. And it moves very fast." Their backup comes from chefs Carl Behnke and Ambarish Lulay.

The courses are running fast also because they're compressed into the second and third modules of summer session. The John Purdue Room, or JPR, is open 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday through July 25. The turnout of customers has been pretty good, Wade says. Reservations are recommended at 49-46845.

The student managers from HTM 492, or Advanced Management of Food Service, rotate among four roles -- kitchen manager, steward manager, bistro manager and back-of-house manager. As a self-described people person, Wade knows her own preferences.

"I love the front of the house, interacting with the guests," she says. "Now I'm learning to love working with the students."

And she's seeing indicators or her own growth during her education and work as she observes the younger students: "For one thing, I see the nerves that I felt when I started front of the house for the first time."

Her work as a catering coordinator at Purdue Memorial Union has confirmed her inclinations, and upon graduation in December, she says, she'll feel ready to go entrepreneurial and open a restaurant or bed and breakfast if the opportunity presents itself.

But first, she'll have the challenge and thrill of her team's intricately planned themed lunch, Flavors of France, to be served July 15 and 17. In addition to the cuisine, the occasion will have themed music and decor.

The other team will present Tastes of the Tropics on July 23 and 25.

More about the John Purdue Room and HTM's adjacent Boiler Bistro is online at and on Facebook by searching for "John Purdue Room."

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