Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) Culinary instructors and students had to think outside of the box to fill the curriculum for the student-run restaurant, Park Terrace. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, typical food operations had to be altered.
“During a normal year, we open the restaurant from early October through the end of the fall semester,” James Simmers, Moraine Park instructor, said. “With our campuses closed to the public, we knew that a typical operation wouldn’t be a possibility.”
The MPTC Culinary instructors presented the second-year students with an idea of running a ghost kitchen for staff on the Fond du Lac Campus.
“A ghost kitchen is typically a temporary secret-location operation, set up for meal-delivery only,” Simmers said. “It offers the opportunity for very limited contact – if any at all- which was a perfect alternative for our heightened safety needs.”
With unanimous approval, they developed Casper’s, the Moraine Park Ghost Kitchen. Casper’s accepted pre-orders for delivery at lunchtime on Thursdays during the fall 2020 semester. Simmers worked with his students to design the menu and like the Park Terrace restaurant, it was managed and ran completely by the students.
“They had to think outside of the box in many ways,” Simmers said. “On top of the normal restaurant duties, they had to implement an online ordering and payment system, scheduled deliveries, and think of logistics to maintain food quality during delivery.”
To date, Casper’s is the most successful student food operation, serving over 300 meals. Participating students were Hannah Chipman of LaValle, Dawn Haakenstad of Oshkosh, Cortland Henning of Fond du Lac, Tammy Peak of Campbellsport, Carmen Roeming of Oshkosh, and Akiyoshi Yukioka of Fond du Lac.
“These students found great success with this solution and learned some valuable skills,” Simmers said. “This class has six students who ran the entire operation. They should be very proud of themselves.”
Simmers is hoping to have the opportunity to reopen Park Terrace to the public next fall.
“We are eager to welcome the public back to Park Terrace,” he said. “Until then, we hope you frequent your local restaurants- as many of them are either owned by or employ our MPTC culinary alumni.”
For more information on Moraine Park’s culinary program, visit morainepark.edu.