Tomorrow's Chefs, Today
Something magical happens at Oxnard College on Thursday evenings when school is in session: You can taste the future. Each week, aspiring chefs and hospitality students create gourmet meals for diners at Bistro Henri Patey (pronounced paH-TAY).
It’s the ultimate in hands-on learning for students in the college’s Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management programs.
Front-of-the-house students seat diners at the linen-topped tables decorated with fresh flowers, and serve as the wait staff. Advanced culinary students design the themed multi-course menu each week with mentor instructors and then cook it—start to finish.
You won’t find grilled cheese or anything slapped together. Lemongrass Basil Tangerine Glazed Duck Breast is the type of entrée they serve. This fall, you might find Beef Wellington with Bordelaise Sauce and Potatoes Anna (a cake of thinly sliced potatoes), says Chef Joe Carabajal, instructional lab technician, instructor and 1995 alum of the program.
Dessert could be something from the flambé station, like Bananas Foster.
The program has about 130 students—from fresh out of high school to adults looking for a career change—and focuses on a “garden-to-table” curriculum, says Dr. Christina Tafoya, dean of career and technical education.
The school’s Culinary Club maintains an on-campus organic garden with veggies and herbs for the bistro’s use.
“We try to keep green,” says Carabajal. “Everything we don’t use vegetable-wise goes in a bin and then goes in our composter and then in our garden.” He estimates about 30 pounds of vegetable waste a day is composted. (During the week, the students offer breakfast and lunch to students and staffon campus.)
The bistro takes its name from Chef Patey, an influential instructor who “helped take the program to the next level,” says Carabajal. Each semester the students vote on a name for the restaurant, but it’s been named for Patey since his passing in 2013.
Bistro Henri Patey is open during the fall semester from September 15 through December 8, and will re-open for the spring semester. Reservations are required.
Bistro Henri Patey at Oxnard College
4000 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard