Volume 4, Number 11 - March 4, 2014

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Tomás Monzón
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Sweet Deals: Fruit Tarts are among the dessert options at The Café @ Miami Culinary Institute. Other choices include tiramisu, bread pudding, carrot cake and apple turnovers. ANGELA DELGADO\THE REPORTER

Campus Café Serves Stylish Sustenance

By Tomás Monzón

With speckled floors, grey stone and glass walls, The Café on the ground floor of the College’s Miami Culinary Institute’s at Wolfson Campus, projects a refined and sophisticated image. The restaurant serves up healthy and high-caliber cuisine while providing a learning platform for students in the hospitality field.

“This café is different because everything that we serve is what we [the students] learn from the school,” said Marianne Merisier, an employee of The Café.

But you wouldn’t know the staff is just learning, as they confidently greet customers. On a recent morning, a line of more than fifteen people, many college students and staff, stood waiting to order fare baked earlier in the day and prepared in the culinary school and in the establishment’s back kitchen. Rows of cookies, pastries and high-end desserts were lined up in a brightly lit, four-shelf display case steps from the entrance. On any given day customers can find a variety of rotating treats from fruit tarts, tiramisu, bread pudding, carrot cake and apple turnovers. Cinnamon buns are strategically stacked up in elevated displays by the cash registers. Behind the display case, staff steamed milk with espresso coffee served in recycled paper cups. At the dozen indoor and sidewalk tables customers nibbled pastries on ceramic white dishes using silver cutlery. 

“Everything is really fresh,” said Leah Colon, a student who likes the relaxing atmosphere.

But the high-quality fare comes at a price. A buttery ham and cheese croissant at The Café costs $2.94, including tax. At Off The Grill, another on-campus food option, a ham and cheese empanada costs just $1.75.

Many are grateful The Café offers an alternative eating option on campus. At The Café, the emphasis is on healthy food not fried. Rossana Saucedo, an engineering student at Miami Dade College, prefers the nutritious food options provided at The Café. Her favorites are the quinoa salad and the clam chowder soup. The lunch menu features many fresh salads and sandwiches.

The Café opened in 2010. It, along with the eighth floor restaurant Tuyo, are both operated by the MDC Culinary Institute. Their incomes offset tuition costs for current and prospective students. On one wall, a video loop advertises the Institute.

“It’s not only the quality of food that we serve,” said René Araújo Herrera the manager who will graduate with her Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management from MDC’s School of Business in a year. “It’s also the sustainability concept that we have.”

Part of that concept shows through The Café’s choice of coffee supplier, Panther Coffee, which is based here in Miami and is known for their hand-selected bean sources and on-the-spot small-batch roasting at its Wynwood location.

Besides Herrera, The Café is staffed by students at the Culinary Institute. Some of them hold paid positions while others do internship hours, 30 of which must be completed every semester. Others simply volunteer.

Luis Sarmiento agrees with the praise for The Café, but laments the limited space, which often gets crowded.

Corey Lewis, an employee of the College said he typically dines at The Café whenever he doesn’t bring food with him to campus.

“[I can] pay a few bucks more [and] get something that’s pretty healthy,” Lewis said.

The Café @ Miami Culinary Institute, 415 NE 2nd Avenue, building 9 ground floor, is open Monday through Friday 7am-2pm.

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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
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