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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Theme Dinners A Success

LAS CRUCES--Most people wouldn't even try planning, preparing and serving a five-course meal for 70. But, for students in New Mexico State University's hotel, restaurant and tourism management program, it's a requirement.

This spring, students in the quantity food production and restaurant operations classes are serving up 12 dinners with different ethnic themes to the public.

Instead of a typical class, where a professor lectures and students take notes, students experiment, learn from their mistakes and create a meal.

The classes teach leadership and cooking skills, said Keith Mandabach, assistant professor at NMSU. "Students learn not just how to cook, but how to lead a kitchen, a dining room and manage a meal so that 70 people can come to dinner and everybody will go home happy and feel good about having been at our dinner."

Students work in teams of four or five as managers to come up with a theme for their meal. Then they choose and test recipes. Once the menu is determined, they are ready to prepare a dinner. During preparation and serving, the managers supervise a group of 10 other student workers.

So far Thai, Mediterranean and Lowland Celtic dinners have been served at the Corbett Center Student Club. Future dinners include southern Italian, Native American, Indonesian and Cajun meals.

Putting on the dinners gives students valuable experience that they can take into their first job. The classes give students a great capstone for their college career--a highlight they'll always remember, Mandabach said.

The dinners are completely student-run, he said. "I could cook this entire meal and make great meals for everyone, but this is the students' meal."

People attending the dinners will enjoy a variety of cuisines and meal experiences that's hard to find anywhere else in the area, Mandabach said. "It's like a brand new restaurant each night that you go to one of our meals."

Tickets are $18. For reservations or more information, call (505)646-5995.