A Delicious Twist
"THERE'S A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK IN THE DOWNTOWN DINING DISTRICT"
The term Chef's Table traditionally means a table set aside in a high-end restaurant kitchen for the chef's special guests to taste new and extraordinary dishes that he/she has created, often especially for this table. At Fanshawe College's new downtown campus which houses the School of Information Technology and the School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts, The Chef's Table is a restaurant where students in the tourism and culinary arts will be able to develop their skills in the kitchen and front of house. It replaces the respected Saffron's that was the restaurant where students used to practise skills on Fanshawe College's main campus on Oxford Street.
The college, the city of London and Downtown London/Mainstreet London have invested $66.2 million over the past three years reshaping one of the core`s oldest residents – Kingsmill`s Department Store – into a sleek, modern, high-tech learning hub. It`s 114,000 square feet of fully wired, completely equipped space, serving 1,600 students.
According to the college`s president, Peter Devlin, "I'm excited to see this building come to life and for Fanshawe students to have access to collaborative spaces, cutting edge technology and modern facilities."
Those who frequented the store wouldn`t recognize it anymore, but there are nods to the past. A glass gallery encloses part of the pneumatic tube system used to send documents between departments during its retail iteration. The always popular staff-operated old-fashioned elevator serves as the change room in the school store just inside the Carling Street entrance. A mural on the freight elevator door, starring long-time employee Wilf Hornick, and the original safe are housed in the basement.
But it's some of the design touches that make this building stand out: the two-storey green wall in the Dundas Street entrance way, the open theatre area and the many collaborative learning areas in hallways and alcoves on all six floors of the building.
This is one of three Fanshawe facilities that bring students downtown. Across the street is the School of Digital and Performing Arts with more than 600 students; the Access Studies department on Richmond Street (in the Shoppers Drug Mart building) offers academic upgrading, literacy skills and community employment services and sees 500 students annually.
Culinary arts students will be using the Spriet Family Culinary Centre on the third floor with five kitchens: three savoury kitchens, a bake lab and a pastry lab. The Spriets donated $500,000 to make this happen.
On the fourth floor, students will learn the proper construction of cocktails in the 24-station mixology lab. Outside this space is a licensed patio.
In the second floor's lecture theatre-style demonstration kitchen, culinary students learn theory and receive their cooking instructions before heading into the kitchens.
The School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts will be offering continuing education classes to Londoners who want to learn cooking, baking, mixology and the like in January. Check out their website for exact classes and times.
The Chef's Table is open to the public Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner – from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
From the perspective of someone who's been watching the project's progress, Fred Kingsmill – the fourth generation to head the venerable department store that resided on Dundas Street for nearly a century and a half – he said he couldn't be more pleased.
"I've gone through twice and saw every room. I can't imagine any flaws at all. The staff and students are going to be very happy. The architects, Ellis-Don and all involved have excelled themselves," he says.