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Culinary students take over restaurant in Canterbury Shaker Village

Last modified: 9/21/2013 12:36:05 AM
Canterbury Shaker Village is the newest training ground for a group of Lakes Region Community College culinary students, who will open the Shaker Table restaurant in the village next week.

“We sell a practical education,” said William Walsh, associate professor in the culinary arts program.

The partnership between the village and Lakes Region Community College began this summer, when the college was looking for a home after leaving the Belmont Mill, which is where students ran the Food for Thought cafe. Funi Burdick, executive director at the village, heard about the program’s dilemma and reached out, offering an empty building on the property that has been leased out to restaurants in the past. Now, about 90 students in the culinary arts, restaurant management and pastry arts programs use that space as a classroom – and as a place to use that knowledge in a real-world setting.

The restaurant will open Tuesday and then serve lunch every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Diners can get an entire three-course meal for $9, which includes tax and a drink. All of the food will be prepared and served by the students. The school has

signed a two-year commitment with the village.

“It’s putting us front and center of the local community,” said Pat Hall, chef and program coordinator.

Students started classes in the village Sept. 3, and they’ve been preparing to open the restaurant since. On Thursday, the second-year students cooked quiche, glazed short ribs and souffle, while the first-year students practiced serving. Beyond the practical lessons, students also take theory courses such as menu design, sanitation and purchasing. Obtaining an associate’s degree through the program typically takes two years, but that can vary based on a student’s outside obligations, Walsh said.

For many students, the costs and personalized nature of the program are enticing factors. It costs about $9,000 a year to enroll in the culinary arts program, Walsh said, and in many classes, the student-to-professor ratio is about 12-to-1.

Walsh said he hopes the facilities at the Shaker Village will be a draw for potential students. The college occupies a three-story building that has an industrial kitchen that works well for teaching in the basement, a dining room with an open food preparation area on the second floor, and a third floor that is used as a classroom. The walls and floor of the building are a rich mahogany wood, and the windows look out on the village.

“It’s awesome; we love it here,” said Kaitlyn Mercer, a second-year student from Manchester. “This place is beautiful.”

A group of students from the Hospitality Club collaborated with the village last weekend during the Artisan Festival, providing fresh lemonade, cider donuts and corn chowder. The professors hope such collaborations will continue at future village events. Every student was also given a membership to the village so they can explore the facility at any time.

Christian LaRoche of Deerfield is another second-year student, double majoring in culinary arts and restaurant management. He said he loved the new space because it gives the students a lot more room to do their work. As for the program itself, he said the chefs always encourage the students to experiment and push themselves in their cooking.

“Instead of handing us a recipe, they just guide us; they push us to do what we think is right (and) what we picture in our heads,” he said.

Since the purpose of running the restaurant is educational, the chefs will try to keep the seating limited to about 40 guests at a time. In the open-kitchen portion of the second floor, guests will be able to watch the students as they put final touches on dishes. The menu will include a starter course with soup and salad, a main entree and a dessert. The menu will change periodically.

After several weeks of practice, the students are ready for the Shaker Table’s doors to open next week.

“It’s something new and an awesome experience for us,” Mercer said. “We’re going to have newer customers, and they’re going to see what we can really do.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)


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