Baking and pastry students at the CIA have two service classes to participate in before graduation, the first being four days in a simulated 'fine dining' restaurant that only serves students and the second working in the front of house for Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe. Students are sifted into front of house roles based on what positions they held in the back of house (if you were working on the savory line, you can expect to be expediting the savory food; overnight breads, packaging up bread orders; pastry, filling orders for your delicious pastries, etc.). It is a team of eight students working behind the counter in two shifts, and any remaining class members work in the dining room waiting on real, paying customers.
The students are in charge of taking and filling orders, clearing plates, refilling drinks and answering any of your pressing questions from the menu to our curriculum. You'll notice a student 'manager' roaming around in business casual who is responsible for the flow of customers through the cafe and making sure the entire dining room is up to par. Learning the patient art of waiting on guests is a class in Apple Pie just like working in the back of house. Every day we had an end of day meeting and went over every single comment card that the guests left, to listen to feedback (both positive and negative) and learn from it.
The second part of our Apple Pie front of house class consisted of daily lectures with Professor Sessarego who is the faculty member responsible for all the goings on in the front of the cafe. The curriculum is all having to do with what we sell in Apple Pie, and geared towards making the students into even better service staff for the guests. We learned about coffee, tea, beer and wine as well as common complaints in the service industry and how to best avoid them.
We were able to taste every single variety of coffee and tea that we sell in the cafe and learn about what makes each of them unique. The cafe sells coffee from a New York based company called Counter Culture, and our tea is sourced from Harney and Sons.
Another memorable experience in the cafe that I just have to note, was the time I was stopped by a family visiting all the way from London because they recognized me from this blog. The daughter is a 15-year-old baking and pastry hopeful who reads this blog as well as my separate website (Morgan Phillips Cakes) and I was so completely touched that they sought me out! I hope you enjoyed your visit to the school and had a wonderful lunch at the cafe! Come back and visit us soon, this time as a student! :-)