It's not everyday high school culinary students dream of opening a restaurant and, well, actually make it happen. But Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSA) juniors Noah Rosen and Austin January are doing just that, opening an entirely student-run pop-up restaurant called CLASS Kitchen on June 26 that will serve a modern American, four-course prix fixe menu every weekend for five weeks. Within the first two weeks of starting their Kickstarter campaign, they've already exceeded their $1,400 goal by over $6,000 thus far.
The project came about when Valinda Garrison, owner of Waffleholic, offered Rosen her restaurant space as a way to practice his culinary chops. When the idea of the pop-up started becoming more serious, Rosen brought in January–whom he met his first year at OCSA–and they began performing research and development. CLASS Kitchen plans to use the Waffleholic space in the evenings when the cafe closes at 2 p.m.
Learning how to run a pop-up restaurant as they go, Rosen says their mistakes, classes at OCSA, instructors, and mentors have been their greatest teachers. However, they say they've also run into challenges. "Because we're students, we don't have the restaurant experience," says January. "And access too, at some points," Rosen chimes in.
Some things they've gained experience with are dealing with kitchen finances, working out how they're going to input reservations into their system, and calculating labor costs. Though the project is not associated with OCSA, students from five of the school's 15 conservatories are involved with it. Student musicians will be providing entertainment. Student graphic designers provided logo designs. Actors will be serving as the wait staff. And the kitchen staff, of course, is from the culinary school.
Now, to the menu.
The whole meal starts with popovers, a light roll made from egg batter. Their appetizers are a classic hot-and-cold combo: soup and salad, specifically heirloom and strawberry salad and root vegetable soup. For entrees you get a choice of different proteins (the chefs say their sous vide salmon and barbecue chicken–which is brined, carved, and smoked themselves–are particularly notable). When it comes to dessert, the two are proud of their maple bread pudding, which consists of a homemade maple cake, sour cream and greek yogurt-based bread pudding liquid, butter pecan ice cream, spiced pecans, and candied bacon. "Some people who've tried it have drawn parallels to French toast and bacon," Rosen adds.
Class Kitchen is located at Midway Market in the Waffleholic location, 1661 Superior Ave., Costa Mesa. To RSVP, click here. They're open from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on their grand opening. Visit their website for more info.