Captain's Table, Orange Coast College's lunch lab in which culinary students test their mettle in a real-life setting serving real customers, starts again next week with its first lunch of the spring session, on Thursday, Feb. 24. This lunch of 12 will feature the cuisine of Mexico. The Thursday after that, it'll be Italy, then France, then Greece, going onward to a veritable tour of world cuisines before returning back to regional American to close the semester in May.
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Through it all, the students will take turns cooking and serving. Those out working the front of the house will include, without fail, a few nervous Nelly's whom you can't help but root for.
This year, the price for the usually three-course lunch will be $16, which is almost double what it used to be when I first discovered the experience was open to the public nearly six years ago (back then, it was $9). But the fun of tasting the food made by hopeful chefs-in-training is, in my opinion, more than worth it.
For the once-a-week Thursday lunches, there's only one seating (at noon), and reservations tend to go fast. The French lunch, in particular, is one of the most popular. To secure seats, and to see the full schedule, click here.
For an account I wrote up of my experience six years ago, click here.