The ICI experience

Creamy spinach pasta with chicken

DMACC offers a full-service restaurant located in Building 7 on the Ankeny Campus. This restaurant is open to the public and is used as a classroom for students currently studying at the Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC. 

Students work together to create the restaurant menus, they will also prepare the food and serve it to their guests. The Bistro offers a Gourmet Lunch Experience to the public from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, now through Fri., Nov. 18th.​ The Gourmet Lunch Experience is priced at  $12 per person, and reservations are required. To make a reservation, email, or call the Bistro line at (515) 964-6369​. The newspaper staff along with former editor Elijah Hernandez attended The Gourmet Lunch Experience.

We Interviewed Natalie Martin, from Norwalk, majoring in Culinary Arts. 

Natalie said when trying to figure out the menu, “We kind of just thought of what are some popular dishes that are going to be light, but that are unique enough that you’re not going to find that any normal restaurant. 

They also didn’t want to have to buy a ton of extra ingredients so they have to think of how they can use it in multiple ways and utilize that between all of them; they also had to consider their audience. 

“We know that we tend to have an older audience here. So you think you don’t want to have as much spice and things you wouldn’t have things that are gonna have later that they’re gonna like. So you just have to kind of cater to your audience and think about that.” 

Bananas foster

Students run the restaurant and have to first complete Food Prep I and II, which are first-year classes. There are a few other classes you have to take, for example, a baking class and a garde manger class, which is cold preparation, and eventually, they’re going to be able to work at the Bistro. It’s a two-semester class and they can either work on the buffet or on the line where they do a lot of prep work. 

Natalie talked about her experience working at the Bistro. “I personally had never worked in a restaurant like this coming into the program which was quite an interesting exposure. So this is kind of new to me. I’m working at a coffee shop right now that has a kitchen (Smokey Row) but it’s nothing compared to this so it is very different from what I’m used to. Today I’m at the buffet which is a little different but based on what I’ve seen, it’s going to be a lot more fast-paced. It’s going to be a lot more on the stove. And it’s going to be a lot of higher quality food than what you’re going to be getting at a cafe. But we take a lot of pride in what we’re doing. It’s been a lot more attention to detail and a lot more time. There’s a lot of detail put into the specific every individual element”, 

I tried the creamy spinach pasta with chicken along with fries as a side. It was a perfect combination of red sauce with spinach. Normally, I am not a huge fan of spinach but this combination made it perfect. On top was chicken that was made perfect and complimented it. The fries had the perfect amount of steak seasoning. The dessert I had was banana foster cheesecake, which was by far my favorite part of the meal. It was cheesecake with warm brown sugared bananas on top. I would definitely recommend that dessert. 

Lily tried the fried ‘chicken’ tofu — a chunk of tofu fried perfectly golden brown served with a honey garlic glaze resting atop a bed of asparagus. The tofu was crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, and the honey garlic glaze was super flavorful.

Maria got a French sip sandwich, which is a hot roast beef sandwich with cheese and a dipping sauce. It was a large sandwich that took up almost the whole plate. “Although I did not finish it, it felt like a good homey meal even though it was hard to eat at points. My favorite part of the meal was the dessert. I got a large grape cream puff. The plate was chilled and the puff was super flaky which I loved. It was a delicious way to end the meal.” 

Alex had pan seared scallops, he thought the lemon was a little overpowering but overall thought it was very good for a side he had butternut squash bake which was by far his favorite part of the main course. 

ICI menu

Elijah’s first impressions: “I had the pleasure of joining The Campus Chronicle in getting a first-hand look at what the Iowa Culinary Institute is presenting with their Gourmet Lunch Experience. The menu contained a variety of options to choose from. There were sandwiches, pasta, fries, and a couple of Mexican dishes to complement the Cajun theme of the menu–one of many that will change throughout the month. I ordered the short rib entrée with roasted romaine as a side dish and a sponge cake dessert. The overall experience was excellent. The Bistro delivered great service when it came to the quality of their cooking and the presentation of the meal. It was evident that the ICI takes its professionalism and work ethic to heart, and I was quite impressed with what they were able to do for their Gourmet Lunch Experience.”

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