Student serves food

Spring 2018 — Dietetic, nutrition and food service students are learning valuable skills in OSU’s NUTR 447 course. Nicknamed the “Pangea class,” this upper-division nutrition course prepares students for the world of food service by managing a university restaurant. The 34 students enrolled are tasked with hosting the annual Pangea Cafe Take-Over Event, a week-long immersive learning opportunity.

This week, from Tuesday, May 29 to Friday, June 1, students will control every aspect of daily cafe operations. With a different menu each day, these nutrition students have their plates full, literally. The course instructors support the students as they navigate recipe selection, food testing, menu design, financial forecasting, event marketing and the final execution of the event. The students are in control and it’s up to them to decide how they want to approach these aspects of restaurant management and gain interest in the event.

The cafe takeover provides students with real-world experience that relates to their careers. Because the event relies highly on teamwork, collaboration is the key to successful execution.

“It’s cool to work with students who aren’t necessarily in the same college that I am because it helps me to understand what it’s like to work in an actual workplace,” said Samara Hoffman, a senior nutrition and food service systems student. “We are always working with people of different skill sets.”

Robyn Jones, co-instructor for the course, agrees. “It is so satisfying to see a group of students come together to complete a real-life project. They truly have to rely on each other to pull this event off and they realize the importance of teamwork,” Jones said.

Student shows off her Tongue Thai'd t-shirt

Audrey Reeves shows off her Tongue Thai'd t-shirt at the event.

While it is a labor-intensive and high-pressure project, students recognize how beneficial this class is to their overall success. The Pangea Take-Over Event summarizes what students have learned the past four years and gives them a structure to implement a pop-up restaurant.

“This is a great capstone class for these students even if they don’t recognize it at the time,” Jones says. “They get to take everything they have learned in their classes and incorporate it into a living, breathing project.”

Each group is required to prepare six entrees, two entrée salads, a vegan option and a gluten-free option. These parameters force the students to think creatively and be flexible during the planning stages, two skills that are necessary in their future career paths.

During the week of the event, Pangea Cafe (located in the first level of the Memorial Union) will serve a variety of cuisine. This year’s restaurant pop-up themes are Brunch Around the World, Tongue Thai’d, Taste of the Valley and Benny’s BBQ. Ditch your bagged lunch this week and come support the OSU nutrition program! Career Story