The Chef's Table brings Fanshawe flavour to downtown core

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: PHOTOS TAKEN BY JAMES SMITH
London's downtown area will now have access to Fanshawe's student-run restaurant now renamed The Chef's Table.

The movement of 2,000 students to downtown London brings with it a big overhaul to the student-run restaurant, Saffron’s and the deli, Olive Oyle’s, now rebranded as The Chef’s Table restaurant and café.

James Smith, chair of the School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts said that the Chef’s Table brand creates a new image, and students working there should expect to be thrown into a more intensive training experience.

“We changed that [educational] focus to you having these skills, maybe minimal, and we are throwing you in [to the business]. We want you to experience a restaurant. The difference between uptown where we were at the Oxford campus to where we are at the downtown campus is that we are in the middle of downtown London. We have a totally different clientele. Yes, they know it’s a training facility, but they know that they’re coming and they are going to be paying for their dinner, or lunch or whatever it is,” Smith said.

Smith was excited to explain how students will be able to bring what they learn in the class right into their work shifts.

“Students come in here academically and are taught by faculty, their professors, on how to do the skills and they are given the core theory behind the industry they want to do. We also have this amazing space, The Chef’s Table restaurant and café, that allows us now to take that learning and go and actually train. It connects those academic courses that are required to learn the handson experience of our programming, which is pretty cool,” Smith said.

Smith also said that students will have an active role in the menu choices, which will include some of their own recipes and crafted drinks.

According to the chair, students “will become apart of The Chef’s Table team” by working together.

“There will be this whole idea of creating a team environment, which will be quite different [from before]. Generally speaking, it was very singular and siloed. You would come in and do your prep and services and the next group to come in the next day would do the same thing. Now the chefs are linking them to production. If there is an event, the group before will be prepping for lunch service, but they will also be prepping for an event that another group of students would be taking care of that night,” said Smith.

“It’s that crossover of creating this team. Monday to Friday groups of students would come in and it’s not just you as your class, you are now a part of The Chef’s Table team. It’s that sharing of the whole experience that I think is different from what Saffron’s used to do.”

According to Smith, the restaurant also supports the local community by buying fresh locally-grown food, featuring beer from breweries around the downtown area and even supporting alumni of Fanshawe by bringing them business opportunities. In the future, he said they hoped to hold a wide variety of events for the public to enjoy, such as live music nights.

The Chef’s Table is currently in the soft-launch stage, open to only staff and faculty. By next week, Smith said they will be opening up to Fanshawe students, and in about another week’s wait time for the public, with lunch and dinner periods running for controlled hours. About a month later, Smith said the hours will elongate for both the restaurant and café to allow a steady flow of customers in.

“We don’t want to be open for only certain times of the day. We want our students to experience people continuously coming through. As opposed to doing 40 to 50 people in one shot, they are going to experience people just coming casually come in and learning what it is to work as they gone through the day,” Smith said.