HEC behind the scenes: Pop-Up Restaurant

February 23, 2015

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Categories: Around SHA, Student Experience
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By Jenna Greco ’18 and Claire Hourticq ’17

Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=Have you ever wondered what Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) is like behind the scenes? With HEC less than four weeks away, we want to keep you updated with weekly news about activities, insights, and bloopers from the preparation of Cornell’s 90th annual weekend-long student-run hospitality conference.

On Friday, February 6, the Food and Beverage Teams held their first practice event of the spring semester, the HEC Pop-Up Restaurant. The Pop-Up Restaurant took place in Statler Hall’s brand-new second-floor multipurpose space (also where the student-run restaurant Establishment at Statler operates), customized for the occasion by the HEC 90 design team. The event was a banquet-style dinner prepared by our student Culinary Team and served by our Service Team. It sold out quickly since it was designed to fit a college student budget, offering a three-course dinner for $15.

Alexis Sicklick ’15, HEC’s executive chef, captured the essence of the evening: “Having the opportunity to run my own restaurant for a night was extremely exciting and truly a special perk of being a Hotelie. No one else really is as fortunate, with the resources we have to carry out such events, and the permission from the faculty to ‘strut our stuff’ and demonstrate all that we are learning from classes and internships.”

Alexis mentioned how difficult yet exciting it was to create the menu, especially because of the combination of restaurant- and banquet-style service. Due to the interesting service mix, Alexis and her team remained mindful about the design appeal of each dish in order to facilitate the successful execution and plating of the dishes.

Sicklick assigned only two people to each dish so her team could take ownership, making them more committed to the event's success.She explained that her cooking style focused on creating balance to “impress the guest through how well everything goes together, not overwhelming them with so many items that may sound great on their own but in the end do not create a cohesive plate.” She assigned only two people to each dish so her team could take ownership, which made them more committed to making the event successful. She then added that the event was a great opportunity for the Culinary Team to work together and practice time management and effective communication, as well as crisis management when the popcorn machine threatened to catch fire…

Much of the preparation for the event also had to be thought through by the Service Team to ensure their effective collaboration with the Culinary Team. Although it was stressful at times, the Service Team members recall the fun and bonding moments they had, such as learning how to fold napkins while joking around about how SHA is made fun of for teaching napkin-folding, realizing that it actually is useful to know for the industry we are entering.

SHA teaches the business of hospitality, which is about so much more than folding napkins. But our graduates who go on to the highest levels of global hospitality management do so with the benefit of a practical, experiential grasp of how everything works at every level of a hospitality organization, thanks in large part to programs like HEC.

"Running my own restaurant for a night was truly a special perk of being a Hotelie ... to demonstrate all we learn from classes and internships." - Alexis Sicklick '15, HEC executive chefDuring the event, Justin Meselsohn ’16, the Service Team director, was thrilled to see his team adapt quickly to changing situations to anticipate the guests’ needs. Together with Alyssa Pizzurro, Beverage Team director, he was excited to use this event to enhance guests’ experience during the upcoming HEC weekend.

“Getting to show off our skills to the faculty and other students and provide them with such a memorable experience filled me and my entire team with so much pride,” recalled Sicklick. No one could have said it better; this year’s Pop-Up was indeed a great experience for both the guests and the students.

Congrats to everyone who helped make this night a success!

The menu

  1. Appetizer, a choice of:
    • Cauliflower and Leek Soup
    • Endive and Radicchio Salad
  2. Entree, a choice of:
    • Pan-Seared Chicken
    • Broiled Sea Bass
    • Quinoa Cakes
  3. Dessert, a choice of:
    • Chocolate and Orange Caramel Baked Phyllo Napoleon
    • Brown Butter Ricotta Fritter

The Beverage Team offered some excellent house-made mocktails, which included Rosemary Lemonade, Ginger and Lime Soda, and Basil and Orange Soda. Both the Food and Beverage Teams worked very hard to make this a successful night. They were recognized by staff, professors, and other students for their efforts.

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