VU Culinary Arts students showcase skills with flavorful dining events

A female student wearing a chef's hat and chef jacket serves an older male diner at a buffet.

June 25, 2024

Story: University Relations Student Journalist Amber Taylor

Photography: Amber Taylor and Ellie McClung

VINCENNES, Ind. - The bustling kitchen laboratories are alive with the vibrant activity of Vincennes University Culinary Arts students. The sizzle of a grilled hand-cut bone-in BBQ pork chop fills the air, the aroma of smoky barbecue sauce blending with the succulent meat. Students meticulously assemble flat iron grilled shrimp po boy sandwiches dressed in garlic butter. On another day, a team of students prepares stuffed roasted pork loin Florentine. A rich aroma of spinach, garlic, red pepper, and parmesan cheese escapes from the oven as they slice into the perfectly roasted meat. Nearby, the satisfying sizzle of breaded pork loin hitting the grill joins the mouthwatering aroma of grilled onions and the sight of gooey cheese.

During spring semesters, the teaching kitchens in Governor’s Hall hum with the energy of VU students perfecting their culinary skills by offering student-led, budget-friendly dining experiences featuring international and regional cuisine for VU faculty, staff, students, and the public.

Students gain valuable real-world experiences by rotating through guest-facing front-of-house roles, and behind-the-scenes back-of-the-house responsibilities, such as operational management, kitchen management, and food preparation. VU's Culinary Arts programs prepare graduates for successful careers working in restaurants, hotels, resorts, and more - all around the world.

Among those students perfecting their culinary skills during the past spring semester was Olivia Williams. She was eager to share her enthusiasm for the program, which teaches teamwork, customer service, and all aspects of Culinary Arts.

“I love it,” Williams said, who had a job lined up as a bakery manager before the semester was even over. “We do something different every week and learn new aspects of running a real restaurant every week. Sometimes, I’m cooking. Other times, I take orders, wash dishes, or serve the meals during the weekly lunches. All the pieces just come together.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Culinary Arts served meals on Thursday nights. It pivoted during the pandemic and offered to-go meals on Thursday evenings.

A female student wearing a VU chef's jacket and hat stirs a pot on a stove.

During the 2024 Spring Semester, Culinary Arts unveiled another new change. It began offering Wednesday lunches. Anyone, including the public, was invited to order the weekly meals in advance with the option to pick up or dine in the Governor’s Hall Trailblazer Room.

The students also hosted two special dinner services: a Valentine's Day buffet and a semester-ending Jimmy Buffett-inspired buffet.

With weekly menu changes, students prepared exciting dishes that kept diners interested and returning throughout the semester. The meals also featured desserts made by Culinary Arts students studying Baking and Pastry Arts.

A student wearing a VU chef's jacket and hat chats with a male and female guest in the Trailblazer Dining Room.

Department Chair of Hospitality Studies Jeff Hume said, "VU Culinary Arts majors receive the best opportunities to showcase their skills and knowledge. We provide them with an immersive learning experience where they learn to prepare first-class cuisine and manage top-notch accommodations. Our student-led dining services are the perfect avenue for them to hone their abilities and cultivate essential tools like teamwork, professionalism, and effective communication. With this real-world learning experience, our students and the University Community benefit, and we take immense pride in being part of their growth and development."

For more information about VU Culinary Arts associate degree and certificate programs, visit

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