Culinary Flagship Program at Forman School Teaches Important Skills and Provides Unique Experience

February 1, 2024

At Forman School, we offer flagship programs designed to cultivate skills beyond those learned in traditional subjects. One of our unique offerings is the Lion’s Den Bistro, an on-campus eatery nestled in the Malcolm G. Chace Student Center. Under the guidance of a professional chef, students learn the intricacies of working in a kitchen and how to prepare dishes with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local farms, bakeries, butchers, and restaurants. Chef Kellen Corrigan has led the program since 2022, bringing over a decade of culinary experience to the role.

Gaining New Skills

In the Lion’s Den Bistro, students immerse themselves in practical and real-world situations. They achieve a deeper understanding and connection with what they are learning and use critical thinking to navigate challenges that are presented on a daily basis. By participating in the program, students practice multitasking, time management, and communication skills. There are always so many things to do, including preparing and cooking food, organizing storage and refrigeration space, operating the POS computer system, and keeping a sanitary and comfortable environment.

Communication is a very important skill in a kitchen and restaurant environment. While working in a confined space with sharp objects, heavy equipment, and hot materials all around us, students learn to effectively communicate with other students to navigate safely in this environment. Additionally, working with each other during our nightly service so that food from different cooking stations all come together at the same time shows great cooperation. 

Serving Up Hot Dishes

Students cook a range of food in the Bistro, from preparing french fries over a multi-day process to various burgers made from scratch. With many other items available in between, the Bistro ensures there is something for everyone to choose from.

Popular in the Bistro is the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, with Nodine’s local smoked bacon, a sunny side up egg from Chanticleer Acres (a local regenerative farm), Vermont cheddar, and roasted garlic aioli, on an everything seasoned ciabatta bun. Sammy’s Chicken Taco is also a fan-favorite, with achiote braised chicken on top of chipotle cabbage slaw, topped with crispy fried onions, pickled red onions, and crumbled cotija cheese, then drizzled with an avocado lime crema. The California roll is the most popular sushi item, with crab, cucumber, and avocado. 

From the Chef 

The students are definitely my favorite part of running the Bistro program. I feel like the students who frequent here as guests have a little restaurant where they can socialize which is different from anywhere else on campus. Then, there are students who participate in various capacities during the Bistro services at night. Most students are part of the current season’s program, while others continue to show up and contribute from previous seasons. There are also students who weren’t part of the program at all, who continually show up to service to learn in the kitchen, all while receiving community service hours for their efforts. The ownership over the Bistro that the students feel reassures me that they have a place that feels like home.

I hope that students will feel empowered to approach their own kitchens in ways that they wouldn’t have been comfortable with before. Through trying new ways of preparing and cooking food, I hope that it translates to confidence in cooking for themselves—or even family and friends for gatherings. At the very least, I hope they walk away with an appreciation for the food they work with, where it came from, and how much effort goes into making restaurants operate.

The Lion’s Den Bistro program is offered as an alternative to a sport. Culinary Arts courses are also offered as part of the curriculum.  

Content submitted by Kellen Corrigan, Culinary Arts Teacher and Bistro Chef

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