For retired mathematics professor Adele Hamblett, dining in the Kershaw Culinary Arts Dining Room is the trip around the world she looks forward to every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
Hamblett taught full-time at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) for 35 years, but still teaches two courses each week, algebra and pre-calculus. Afterwards, she retreats to the dining room for some cultural and geographical exploration.
On this particular afternoon the cuisine du jour is Indian, featuring mulligatawny, a spicy soup seasoned with curry; green salad topped with green goddess dressing; chingri malaikari (coconut curry shrimp) with basmati rice; saag paneer (spinach with Indian cheese) and dahi murgh (yogurt chicken) with matar pulao (green pea pilaf ). For dessert, the choices are gajar ka halwa, a sweet carrot pudding with cashews, raisins, almonds, pistachios, cardamom and rose water and malpura, ricotta pancakes in cardamom syrup.
At the Kershaw Dining Room, a full-service restaurant run by students under the supervision of their instructors, Culinary Arts students fill every role from head chef to dishwasher, host(ess) to food runner. The “on-campus” dining room is open for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall semester. Dinner service is added on Monday and Wednesday evenings each spring.
With a curriculum that spans baking and pastry arts to preparing, cooking and presenting meals, the program is an established leader in the hospitality and food service industries. Mary Beth Barton, Professor and Chairperson of the Hospitality Department, has taught at BHCC since 1985.
“Students gain hands-on training and have the opportunity to practice their skills before taking on a summer internship at a restaurant or bakery.”
-Mary Beth Barton, Professor and Chairperson of the Hospitality Department
In the dining room, Hamblett is known as the “MVG”—most valuable guest. The students expect her each week, reserving a window seat overlooking the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge and the Charlestown skyline. Hamblett, who began teaching at BHCC in 1977, looks forward to her interactions with students in the program.
“Not many, but some guests will come in, and if something goes wrong or is delayed, they get upset,” she said. “How can you get upset? This is a lab, after all. No matter what happens, I’m always patient.”
Customers like Adele Hamblett bring a “real-life” teaching experience to the program. “Repeat business is crucial to a restaurant’s success,” said Barton, “and we teach our students that guest satisfaction is the key to being successful in the industry.”
Over the years, Hamblett has watched the culinary program evolve. She credits much of its success to Barton. “Mary Beth has put a finishing touch that was not part of the course until she took over,” said Hamblett. “Beyond the cooking, she teaches all of the things that you need to know [about running] a restaurant.”
Barton attributes the success of the program to the expertise of its faculty and the College’s support of the dining room. The program’s faculty bring a wealth of experience to the kitchen. Their backgrounds in education include Johnson & Wales University, The Culinary Institute of America, Boston University and many more.
“As instructors, we bring our knowledge from these institutions as well as industry experience into the classrooms and labs each day,” said Barton. “Our students take the same core courses as those at other culinary schools, and they are trained in the same techniques and theories–all at a fraction of the cost.”