Have you ever wanted to go to Culinary School? Do you dream of knowing how to make a Pate A Choux? Daydream of whipping up a Béchamel Sauce or Demi-Glace to go with dinner? Wish you had mad knife skills and could slice and dice through things as effortlessly as the Chefs you see on TV? ME TOO!!
Recently, I was able to spend a day with the Culinary students at The Art Institute of California, Inland Empire! I was there to do a demo, but I got to talk to the students for a while. They know all the things I mentioned above and so much more! They are the future of our local culinary world and they are rocking it! Prior to my demo, I was blessed to have lunch at the campus restaurant, Seasons. Oh my gosh! You have to try this place!
Seasons is a student-run restaurant for the Art Institutes Culinary Program. Offering a unique combination of real-world experience and instructional content the restaurant is open to the public for lunch during the week. Under the direction of Culinary Academic Director Chef Clifton Lee Van On, Chef George Tucker and Faculty/Front of House Manager Ms. Desiree Massei, the culinary students are in charge of everything at Seasons, from food ordering and preparation to guest seating and serving! The menu rotates every season (hence the name!) so everything is fresh and the students get to work with the best ingredients! Coming in July 2015, Head instructor Chef Tucker will be expanding the talents of these students and offering a dinner service menu too!
If you live anywhere near the San Bernardino area and it’s lunch time (or dinner time in July!) you need to eat at Seasons! When you visit, I have two words for you. Pizza Fries.
Yes, you read that correctly. Pizza. Fries. Cheese pizza, sliced into sticks, rolled in a beer batter, then deep fried. It is served with a robust marinara sauce and is one of the most popular items on the menu! Full disclosure, I’ve been to Seasons three times now and have had pizza fries every time. Chef Tucker even gave me a tour of the kitchen and showed me how to make them, I loved them so much! It’s one of those things though, even if I tried to make them at home, it wouldn’t be the same as when I order them at Seasons. They’re just that good!
You know what else is good? Mac & Cheese Pops!
Apparently, I’m all about the deep fried cheese items at Seasons! These come with a tomato dipping sauce, different than the marinara for the Pizza Fries, that compliments the rich, cheesy centers of these Pops.
My appetizer experience also included Avocado Rolls, which were divine! Crispy won-ton wrappers, a little bit of spice and a whole lot of avocado! It too, comes with it’s own dipping sauce.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Seasons only has deep-fried items! There is a full menu of delicious salads, sandwiches and main course meals.
The day I was there, they also had a French Buffet with a variety of different French inspired dishes! Julia Child would have been proud!
No trip to Seasons is complete without dessert. Faculty/Manager Ms. Massei not only works at the school, she is a 20 time award-winning owner of Design Cakes and Cupcakes and winner of Food Networks Cupcake Wars, so you know the desserts are on point! The students under the training of Chef Tucker and Ms. Massi are so skilled in serving, plating and developing recipes, when they graduate from the Art Institute, they are completely prepared for whatever the culinary world can offer!
Many of the seniors I spoke with during my visit, already have jobs in local kitchens and are looking forward to their future!
So if you want to support these great culinary students, eat incredible food at rock bottom prices, run, don’t walk, to Seasons! You won’t regret it!
Seasons Restaurant at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is located at: 630 East Brier Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92408. For reservations or more information about hours, give them a call at: 909-915-2170
Who knows! You might even see me there. I’ll be the one at the corner table with the pizza fries!