Customers placing reservations months in advance for night of fine dining

By Elisha Corsiga

Huddled together in the middle of Jane’s, culinary arts students discuss their game plan for another successful evening of serving customers regional cuisine at the upscale restaurant. 

Jane’s began its dinner service on Feb. 16, with a three-course meal prepared by students in RRC Polytech’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts programs.

Although it just started, reservations are booked up until April 22, the last day the service is being offered.

And there is a growing waitlist.

Hospitality Student Aidan Krassnigg prepares tables for guests./ELISHA CORSIGA

“It is challenging,”  Jean-Marc Blanc, a hospitality instructor overseeing the evening dining service, said. “We want to accommodate everybody.”

There are less students in the program this year, leading to fewer available reservation slots.

“Even though restrictions are being lifted, we only take as many reservations as students can handle,” Blanc said.

Students work in rotations, six of them at a time serving the customers. After three weeks, the menus and students switch. For the second and third menus, hospitality students will join in to help.

On opening night, students served 24 customers. On the third night, they served 30.

“With a smaller number of people, I was able to do more tables,” Skye Nolin, a 25-year-old culinary arts student, said.

Nolin is one of the six students who have served for three consecutive dinner services since opening night. On the second evening, he worked as the server captain.

One of the students’ tasks is executing tableside flambé by adding alcohol to the pan during the cooking process, resulting in an eruption of flames.

“You do have to stay a good distance. You do not want to burn the customers. Overall, it was a good experience,” he said.

Customers can also watch students cook desserts like crêpes Suzette, cherries jubilee, and bananas foster in front of them.

“That was my favourite part,” Nolin said. “Just being able to cook right in front of customers was amazing.”

Working at Jane’s gives students the opportunity to practice their interpersonal skills and build great rapport with the customers, Blanc said.

Students start setting up early for the evening’s reservations./ELISHA CORSIGA

“It also gives students the chance to serve food they haven’t necessarily tried themselves,” he added.

For Nolin, working at Jane’s has been beneficial to his learning.

“It definitely helped me with the cross-training between the front of the house and the back of the house staff, and knowing how things need to be so that it all works together,” he said.

Despite the dinner service being fully booked, customers can still dine at Jane’s during lunch until April 28.