Drage’s student restaurant is ready to open with a Chinese buffet

MASSILLON — Dressed in his pristine white coat, apron and chef’s hat, Grant Tomcsik carefully wielded a knife, slicing shiitake mushrooms into even chunks.

Tomcsik, a junior in the RG Drage culinary arts program, was preparing the ingredients for a hot and sour soup that will be served on this week’s Chinese buffet.

The Chinese buffet opens the spring season of the Harvest Room restaurant run by students at Career Technical School, 2800 Richville Drive SE.

It will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The public is welcome. Reservations are not required but appreciated.

Culinary instructor David Browne has warned that with the impending storm he may have to cancel the event.

“I’m not sure we’ll be in school on Thursday and Friday,” he said, adding that he would make a decision on Wednesday and asked customers to call before heading to the restaurant.

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A great dining experience at RG Drage

On Monday morning, Browne and his cooking students were moving forward with planning the buffet.

Preparations were underway, setting up the buffet table, the Mongolian grill station and the made-to-order sushi table. The buffet will include Chinese specialties such as General Tso Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken.

Louisville High School cooking student RG Drage Jhacel Dawa fry chicken to make General Tso's Chicken at school Monday.  Massillon School's student-run Harvest Room restaurant will open for the spring session on Thursday and Friday with a Chinese buffet.

Other dishes include Cantonese roast chicken, ribs and crab rangoon.

Alaina Jackson, a student at Minerva High School, was busy cleaning the silverware.

Someone has to do it, she joked, adding that it’s important work because no one wants a dirty fork.

The 16-year-old junior enjoys cooking and learning different aspects of catering.

“At 16, they don’t want to hire you,” she said. “Right now it’s fast food or entrees, but I’m getting experience (of everything) at school.”

In addition to gaining hands-on experience, Jackson and his classmates are gaining certifications and other skills that will put them ahead of other candidates.

Tomcscik, a junior from Northwest High School, puts the skills he learns in school to work at Guiseppe’s Pizza and Caston & Main Brew Yard.

“It just gives you an idea of ​​what it’s like when the restaurant is open,” the 17-year-old said.

Louisville Junior Hunter Coss has always loved Asian culture and learning about cooking has been fun.

Among the best things he learned was how to roll sushi. The class practiced for the made-to-order sushi station that will be part of the buffet. They rolled up California rolls filled with crab, cucumber and avocado. Besides the raw versions, they also fried the concoction for a different take.

Esther Beight, a junior from Minerva High, said she enjoys making different dishes, especially those that require special ingredients that you may not have on hand at home.

Beight and his classmate Skylar White, from Northwest High School, were folding towels into the shape of kimonos. A pair of chopsticks was stored inside.

It’s just not learning and cooking recipes, White said.

“It’s so fun to see teachers get together and talk and eat (our food),” she said.

Spring semester

The student-run restaurant will be open Thursdays and Fridays for the remainder of the school year for buffets and prepared meals.

If the Chinese buffet is canceled, it will not be rescheduled, Browne said, noting that they have already planned the rest of the menus.

Next week they will be hosting a Valentine’s Day Buffet and Friday Fish Fries will start in March during Lent. A fries buffet is planned for March 11.

Esther Beight, left, of Minerva High School, and Skylar White, of Northwest High School, juniors in the culinary arts program at RG Drage, fold napkins into kimonos at school.  The school's Harvest Room restaurant opens Thursday with a Chinese buffet.

A St. Patrick’s Day menu of corn beef, cabbage and potatoes, Ruebens and other Irish dishes will be offered on March 17. A spring buffet is planned for the first week of April.

Browne said customers can view the menu online or call the restaurant.

The restaurant reopened in the fall after being closed last year due to COVID.

Browne said the pandemic has devastated their business and many elderly customers have not returned.

The Culinary Program has also done a lot of restoration work, and those that have suffered with groups giving up hosting events.

“We lost our catering largely to older groups, churches and civic groups,” Browne said.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Browne said, he has a large group of hard-working students.

About 32 students are part of the culinary program, he said. Many seniors are early placed and work outside of school.

Browne is trying to get things back to normal for students and is happy that Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, a national nursing and technical student organization, is once again hosting in-person events and competitions.

Several students will participate in a contest in March at Stark State.

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

Celebrate Chinese New Year

The RG Dragage Culinary Arts Program will host a Chinese buffet from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the student-run Harvest Room Restaurant, 2800 Richville Drive SE in Massillon. The public is welcome. Reservations are not required but appreciated. The cost is $11.95 for a buffet with Asian dishes such as Cantonese roast chicken, ribs, sweet and sour chicken, Kung Pao chicken and crab rangoon. In addition to the buffet, the meal will include wok dishes, sushi, dessert and a drink. Customers are encouraged to call ahead to ensure the restaurant is open. If the school is closed due to weather, the restaurant is also closed.

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