Ready to serve ‘Twisted pasta’

SMSU student restaurant opens for spring semester

Photo courtesy of Southwest Minnesota State University SMSU students Cameron Peterson and Jayson Teagle prepare food at the soft opening of the Mustang Kitchen, a new student-run restaurant, on Tuesday night

MARSHALL — It took a lot of planning — and some “long, long days,” Cameron Peterson said. But for a group of Southwest Minnesota State University students, the work was worth it to open their restaurant to the public.

The Mustang Kitchen, a new student-run restaurant at SMSU, had its soft opening on Tuesday night. Peterson, who is part of the restaurant team, said it’s been fun to hear the responses from customers.

“The day after, I had people who went to the soft opening compliment us on the food,” he said.

Students said they take the feedback seriously.

Starting on Tuesday, the Mustang Kitchen will be open to the public on Tuesday nights during the university’s spring semester. Members of the public will be able to make dinner reservations to try a menu of pasta dishes, with appetizers and desserts created by culinology and hospitality management students.

“We are excited to bring the Mustang Kitchen to the community,” said Dr. Joyce Hwang, associate professor of hospitality management at SMSU.

The Mustang Kitchen is run by students in SMSU’s food operations class, Hwang said.

“In addition to developing the menu items, they create shopping lists, do the prep work, and handle all aspects of the restaurant operation. They rotate being the manager, server, or chef throughout the semester,” Hwang said.

The main theme for the Mustang Kitchen this spring is “Twisted Pasta.” All of the entrees on the menu put a new spin on pasta dishes. There are entrees with Italian flavors, like the creamy Tuscan chicken penne, as well as ones with Asian influences, like the kimchi bacon carbonara, bulgogi pasta, and tom yum linguine.

The Mustang Kitchen also partnered with local producers to source ingredients for the menu. Redwood River Farms is providing bacon for the student restaurant, and tru Shrimp is providing shrimp.

Planning for the Mustang Kitchen began at the start of the semester, said restaurant team member Karalyn Closs. The food operations students each created different appetizers and desserts that will be featured on different weeks at the restaurant.

“They’re such unique dishes, and they’re all developed by the students here,” Closs said. Closs created appetizers like a goat cheese and rosemary foccacia, and raspberry jalapeno brie bites, as well as key lime pie ice cream for dessert. Peterson said he created his appetizers and dessert to go along with his Scottish heritage. He created Scotch egg and smoked salmon wrap appetizers, and a Guinness chocolate cake for dessert.

Days when the restaurant is in service involve a lot of preparation and teamwork, Peterson and Closs said. Students attend a class lecture in the morning, and then start prepping for dinner service around 1 p.m.

Working in the restaurant can be an intense experience, students said.

“It depends on what you’re doing,” Closs said.

She and Peterson said the line cooks probably have the most to do to prepare the food.

The Mustang Kitchen brings together students with different backgrounds and experience levels. Peterson said he’s worked in kitchens for about five or six years, and hopes to open his own restaurant someday. Meanwhile, Closs said she had never worked in a kitchen before.

“It’s good to mix those students together. We help each other,” Peterson said.

“It’s been really interesting. It’s been pretty fun too,” Closs said of helping run the restaurant.

Students said they’re trying to spread the word about the Mustang Kitchen as much as they can.

“The more people that show up, the more it’s helping us,” Peterson said.

“It’s a learning experience for the students in the program,” said Hwang. “We ask customers to fill out a comment card in place of a tip, which will serve as invaluable feedback for our students.”

The Mustang Kitchen will be open from 5:30-8 p.m. on a total of nine dates in February, March and April. The restaurant is located in the SMSU Culinology/Hospitality Dining Room in the Individualized Learning building room 116.

Seating is limited to 30 guests each night. Meals are $28 per person, which includes a non-alcoholic beverage as well as sales tax. Espresso beverages are available at an additional charge. More detailed information on Mustang Kitchen dates and menus is available online at www.smsu.edu/go/mustangkitchen, or by calling 507-537-6223. Reservations can also be made online at the website.


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