Lakewood Ranch Main Street sightseers can expect to visit USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Culinary Innovation Lab on a more frequent basis.
Last week, students and staff in the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership hosted its first-ever “Bulls Bistro,” an event open to the public featuring food and drink and also showing off the digs inside the lab. Between now and the end of the semester, USF will host four more events and hope to make the bistro a weekly fixture after that.
“That facility is gorgeous and the community deserves access to it,” said Pat Moreo, the newly named dean at the College. Coming into his post in the summer, opening that lab to the public was one of Moreo’s priorities. He called the Bulls Bistro a great success.
“I’m just hoping it builds from here,” he said.
Moreo also said he hopes to build in some more catering events at the lab. Joe Askren, the director of the lab and an instructor at the school, said he’d love to see the event expand and have some type of chef instruction night at the lab for members of the public.
“Come and see and listen to a mic’d up chef. We’ve done those before for private parties,” Askren said.
Even before Moreo’s arrival, Askren said the Culinary Innovation Lab was hosting about 25 events per semester, again mostly for private parties. With each event being different to suit the different events, students never really got a consistent, hands-on experience, something that’s valuable to the learning process, Askren said.
He also said the Bulls Bistro type of event, where students are truly responsible for many of the decisions, helps the students feel the pressure.
“Putting them in pressure situations, but it’s a controlled environment. They’re not going to fall and fail completely. They ended up drawing up a pretty good strategy,” Askren said.
He plans to discuss the event with his students and let them brainstorm ways to improve and move forward. Students have already started discussng the possibility of a dessert room.
Additional bistros are planned for Oct. 13, Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and Nov. 17, according to officials. Tickets are available online at usfsm.edu/chtl/bulls-bistro/