Before arriving for lunch at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale's culinary training restaurant, Chef's Palette, I admit there was an apprehensive thought or two that entered my mind. Not knowing what to expect from chefs-in-training, I wondered if I should I bring precautionary pink bismuth along to the school.
Any negative thoughts were eradicated, however, after I devoured a
delicious meal prepared and served by energetic culinary students in an
intimate dining room. Three courses at the Chef's Palate cost only
$12.99! Menu options include lobster bisque, New York strip
steak au poivre, and braised lamb shank.
The restaurant caters to an eclectic crowd and loyal patrons.
Among the regular diners were Bill and Chuck (no last name given) who
have been coming to Chef's Palette every Friday since the mid-90s.
As the two friends shared a slice of birthday cake graciously donated by
a nearby table, they proudly stated that they dine weekly because of
the great service and tasty food. "They're so talented! It's amazing! And
they treat us so nicely!" they proclaimed.
The kitchen and the dining room are separated by large glass windows showcasing pupils hard a work. Chef and instructor Rich shared a story of a student catching a frying pan on fire, causing flames to shoot to the ceiling leaving a mark of soot to this day. With a laugh, he recalled how surprised he was that no one in the dining room saw the mishap.
Aside from the occasional kitchen disaster, students evolve from not-so-experienced kitchen cooks to culinary chefs during the quarter-long training at Chef's Palette. Famous alumni include Paula DaSilva who was runner up in season 5 of Gordon Ramsay's hit FOX show, Hell's Kitchen, and is now executive chef at the Eden Roc resort in Miami.
11th students will battle with one another in a competition of culinary
prowess. The winning student's food will be featured in feature in the
annual Winterfest's White Party. In December, the Art Institute hosts an annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Broward General Hospital's Pediatric Oncology Center. Students and chefs team up to provide gingerbread houses for the children to decorate.