Thyme for lunch: Gallatin College culinary students offer bistro dishes on Fridays
BOZEMAN— Students in Gallatin College Montana State University’s culinary program are inviting the community over for lunch on Fridays this spring at Thyme Bistro.
Through April 14, students, faculty, staff and community members can dine at the student-run Thyme Bistro each Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Hannon Hall dining room. Lunch is $8 per plate with optional $1 desserts and $1 beverages. The proceeds from the weekly event support the Gallatin College MSU culinary program.
Seven second-year students in the Culinary Arts associate degree program will prepare and serve various dishes as a part of a senior capstone class. Each student will lead a weekly lunch, the final requirement of the two-year program.
The bistro, now in its third year, has become a regular Friday stop for many people around Bozeman, said Bruce Eiting, instructor for the class and owner of Tavern 287 in Ennis.
“People are quite shocked at what we can do for $8. It’s an amazing price point, and the food that we’re able to put out makes everybody really happy,” he said. “(My favorite part of teaching this class) is the cooking and the enjoyment on the faces of all the guests that come in.”
Each week, the student in charge designs the menu; writes or borrows recipes; creates food purchasing lists; handles preparation, planning and execution of the lunch in the kitchen; and manages the front, which includes hosting, serving and running the restaurant, said Eiting.
In addition to the dine-in service, guests can place to-go orders at the bistro, and all meals are ready for take-out within five to seven minutes.
On Friday, March 3, senior culinary student Noah Sineni will take the helm to design the meal and direct the team of students to execute the lunch service.
“I've been studying a lot to fine-tune (the meal) and get more of that authentic experience for guests,” he said, adding that students typically prepare throughout the week for the six-hour class. “It’s everything we've been working toward, and now we’re actually in charge of a restaurant and have to run it.”
Students also gain experience with additional elements of running a restaurant, including sanitation, accounting, point-of-sale and guest interaction, said Eiting.
“We’re getting more familiar and confident with more than preparing food,” Sineni said. “I'm used to staying in the back of the kitchen and not really interacting with the guests. The main thing I'm taking away from (the bistro) is point-of-sale, interacting with people and serving food rather than just making it.”
These culinary students will graduate in May, equipped with skills that prepare them for careers in food-service operations ranging from small restaurants to large food service facilities, said Michael Dean, director of Culinary Arts. The curriculum includes traditional culinary arts coursework as well as hands-on experiences that align with Montana’s food culture and strong tourism industry, he said.
“In our little bistro, we try to simulate as much as we can of what they’re going to see in a restaurant when they move on from us and they’re in the industry,” Dean said.
The entrance to the dining hall is located on the south side of Hannon Hall facing American Indian Hall. Gallatin College flags are placed to help guests locate the dining room. The dining room only accepts card payments.
The weekly menus are published each Wednesday at https://gallatin.montana.edu/programs/culinaryarts/thymebistro.html, or on Instagram, at instagram.com/gallatin_college/. More information on the culinary program can be found at https://gallatin.montana.edu/programs/culinaryarts/. Off-campus visitors can purchase hourly parking in the parking garage. A map of parking lots is online at montana.edu/campusmap/#!/.
“(The bistro) is relaxed and a great opportunity for the community to come in and really see what we do,” Sineni said.