Coleman is enrolled in Hospitality 320, a food production course where students create menus, purchase ingredients and prepare meals that are served at Ellington’s Restaurant in the Holmes Student Center. But since Ellington’s is temporarily closed because of COVID-19, Coleman and fellow students needed to follow a different recipe to hone their culinary skills.
“This class gives students a real-world industry experience,” said John Boswell, director of Retail Dining, NIU Campus Dining Services and course instructor. “And just like the hospitality industry has had to adjust to the pandemic, we had to adjust as well.”
Students in the course have taken their talents to The Depot, selling fresh, made from scratch carry-out meals each Tuesday and Thursday. Over the course of the semester, students are working in small teams planning menus, purchasing ingredients, preparing meals and packaging them for customers to enjoy.
“Although it may not be the same experience other students have had in this course, this shift still provide students with good industry experience,” Boswell said. “I have been so impressed by what these students are doing and by the food they are preparing.”
“I’m impressed with the food that has been produced,” said Coleman. “The different concepts I’ve seen are intriguing and it pushes my group to be more unique when it comes to picking meals for our production day.”
Diners have been delighted by things like a cranberry salsa turkey wrap and sweet potato chips, a crispy chicken wrap with corn and bean salsa, a falafel pita sandwich and chicken shawarma with a Shirazi salad.
“It’s a great value, everything is fresh and the presentation is exceptional,” Boswell said. “We have been really happy with how creative the students have been with their menus and the effort they have put into the process.”
It’s a win-win for the students and the campus community, who can enjoy inventive and delicious meals at a considerable discount.
Visit The Depot each Tuesday and Thursday to purchase the creative carry-out meals and to support Huskie students. Meals are $7.99 and can be purchased with Dining Dollars and Huskie Bucks in addition to cash, credit or debit.