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“Dinner and Show” Theatre Events Good Practice for Hospitality Students

Programs join to provide real-world practice in menu planning, prep, service

Ruthie Counter
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
If you haven’t enjoyed a pre-show dinner at Parkland College this semester, you have only two chances left.
Due to ramped-up collaborations between Parkland Theatre and the college’s Hospitality program, some performances, like the Jan. 17 student show, have featured such menu items as filet mignon, red potatoes with walnuts and gorgonzola, and sesame chicken breast on rice pilaf. Future offerings include beef Wellington topped with duck pate baked in a puff pastry with a red wine mushroom sauce and beet salad with toasted walnuts seasoned with a red wine vinegar/mustard vinaigrette served on a bed of spring greens, along with other enticing dishes.
Hospitality Program Director Jeff Kilar says the collaborations, which began Nov. 2012, offer his students a chance to practice real-world menu and dining service preparation, while providing a special treat to the public.
“(Fine and Applied Arts department Chair) Nancy Sutton approached me about the idea,” said Kilar, who plans out the events along with Hospitality instructor Bill Wagner (a program graduate) and Parkland Theatre’s Program Artistic Director Joi Hoffsommer and Marketing/Business Manager Dallas Street.
“From our perspective, these events allow us to execute service that is closer the realities of restaurant operations; students are involved in the menu planning and costing of the meal.”
Parkland’s Hospitality Program offers degrees in Culinary Arts Management, Restaurant Management, and Hotel-Motel Management as well as Foodservice, Foodservice Assistant, and Hotel-Motel Management certificates.
“Collaborating with Hospitality has been a wonderful experience,” Hoffsommer said. “The meals have been impressive, and the opportunity for our theatre patrons to enjoy a complete ‘dinner and a show’ evening all under Parkland's roof is exciting.”
The anticipated fall 2014 opening of the college’s new black box theatre, “Second Stage,” should offer even greater opportunities for the theatre and hospitality programs to stage creative dinner options for theatre-goers.
The two remaining Parkland Theatre productions for the spring semester offer one “dinner and show package” night each. Wait Until Dark, with shows running Feb. 13–23, will offer a dining option on Friday, Feb. 21, while Monty Python’s Spamalot, which runs April 17–May 3, provides a dinner on April 18.
“Those wanting to take advantage of the pre-show dinner should make their reservations with haste,” Street said. The hospitality students have created an intimate restaurant that only seats 24 lucky guests. The dinners tend to sell out very quickly. The quickest way to reserve is by calling my office number directly at 217/373-3874.”
The pre-show dinner and theatre ticket price is $30. Information on Parkland Theatre productions and pre-show dinners can be found online at www.parkland.edu/theatre or by calling the theatre ticket line at 217/351-2528.

[Image: Hospitality Program student Josh McQuaid prepares salad mix for the Jan. 17 theatre pre-show dinner.]

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