SARASOTA, Sept. 12, 2014
– Bistro 502, a restaurant staffed by students in the Commercial Foods and Culinary
Arts Program at the Sarasota County Technical Institute, will open its doors to
the public for the 2014-15 school year at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16. The
facility will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays
throughout the school year, with some exceptions. Bistro 502 is located on the
SCTI campus at 4748 Beneva Road.
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will change periodically, starting with the popular original lineup of dishes served
when Bistro 502 first opened in March 2011. These selections include Warm Goat
Cheese and Grilled Chicken Breast on Baby Lettuce Salad, Bistro Burger Sliders
with Homemade Potato Chips, Seafood Crepes au Gratin with Ratatouille and Cream
Cheesecake with Spiced Pineapple Topping and Butterscotch Sauce, to name a few.
Items on this menu will be served through Oct. 23; the menu will change periodically
and the restaurant will close for the school district’s winter and spring
breaks. More information, including the current Bistro 502 menu, is available at www.SCTI.edu.
“We’re excited to bring back some favorite
items and experiment with some new ones,” said Chef Brian Knecht, 53, who directs the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts
Program. “The students look forward to preparing and serving affordable gourmet
meals to new and returning customers.”
year’s students include Maddy Luscko, 17, who divides her day between the program
and her classes as a junior at Riverview High School. She said she learned about the opportunity from a friend during
her sophomore year at RHS. “I heard it was an excellent program so I toured the
facilities,” she said. “Then I knew it was for me! I decided to enroll this
Luscko said she became interested in cooking
after watching competitive baking challenges on the Food Network cable
“Buddy Valastro appeared on many of the programs
I watched, including the series “Cake
Boss.” I fell in love with his careful techniques and exquisite cake
designs. I actually got a chance to go to his bakery in Hoboken, New
Jersey, where I saw three-layered cakes stacked around the shop, mouth-watering
pastries in a refrigerated case, and heavenly looking cupcakes on display. I
started baking regularly after this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Luscko said her “dream college” is Johnson
and Wales University in Miami. She believes the SCTI program will prepare her
well for her post-secondary education and her career. She plans to open her own
bakery or her own line of desserts to sell to restaurants or retail stores.
Holton Irwin, also 17, is a home-schooled
student. He decided this year to attend the program.
“I wish I started sooner,”
he said, “because so far I really like the program and it ties in with something
I might want to go to college to study or do when I’m older.”
Irwin isn’t sure what he’ll do for a living. “But no
matter what job I have, I always envision myself being
around people and communicating with them, whether that’s in the kitchen or in
some other environment. I'm not necessarily set on being a chef but my job
could definitely be in the restaurant or hospitality fields.”
Irwin works after school and on weekends as a “food runner” at a
local restaurant, setting up the plates, making sure the customers are happy
and clearing the tables. He says he’s always had an interest in cooking.
“I love the idea of being able to express yourself with your
cooking: your style, taste and approach to cooking can be different from everyone
One of the first things Irwin
learned how to cook was a grilled cheese sandwich. “It’s the simplest thing
possible, but I remember feeling like I made the world’s best grilled cheese
and I should start a grilled-cheese restaurant. Now my favorite
dishes to make are usually pasta dishes. I love making Chicken Alfredo and different
types of pastas with different meats.”
Irwin adds that “Mr. Knecht and Mrs. (Mary) Sullivan are definitely my
favorite teachers. They are both so cool and do a great job teaching the
material. I feel like I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m excited to see
what the rest of the year brings!”
About the SCTI Commercial
Foods and Culinary Arts Program
Sarasota County Technical Institute has been educating high school and adult
students since 1967. More than 620 high school students attend SCTI on a half-day basis each year, leaning new skills in 40 career and technical education programs offered at the campus. The two-year Culinary Arts
program is one of the most popular.
to the current facilities of the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program at SCTI,
including the student-staffed restaurant Bistro 502, opened to the public in
March 2011. Led by Brian Knecht, a skilled chef with a background in country
club, restaurant and catering kitchens, students are trained to prepare and
serve food using professional equipment.
In addition to the lunches served at tables
in Bistro 502, a food kiosk features fresh baked goods, soup du jour,
sandwiches, salads and takeout meals.
Students who successfully complete this
program have the opportunity to earn college credits through articulation
agreements with postsecondary institutions, including the State College of
Florida, Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America.
A three-year apprenticeship program training cooks to become chefs is also
available and is sponsored by the American Culinary Federation on the campus of
SCTI culinary students regularly win local, regional
and national competitions. High school student Matthew Khampapha placed second
in the region out of 18 competitors and sixth in the state out of 24
competitors in the SkillsUSA Culinary Arts Contest, which was held in May in