Culinary cabaret: SLCC students cook at the Capitol

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SLCC students prepare a banquet in the rotunda of the Capitol. Their cooking experience ranges from casual to fine dining. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Lee)

SALT LAKE CITY — Students from Salt Lake Community College are furthering their culinary careers by participating in a program that allows them to cook meals at the Capitol on a daily basis.

Cooking at the Capitol is an opportunity offered to culinary students at Salt Lake Community College in their junior and senior years to gain more hands-on experience.

Jakob Lyman, a resident of Murray, is a chef who graduated from the program six months ago but has been working on the staff at the Capitol for four years.

“It was a chance to get into a place to get experience because most places wanted two years of experience before you got into it. It looked great on a résumé,” Lyman said. “Most people are impressed when I say I work up at the State Capitol.”

The program is an opportunity for students to teach and learn from each other, according to manager Meghan Krenicky.

“There’s a lot of talent in this program,” Krenicky said. “We have people who have never  picked up a knife before in their lives, and we have people who are … certified executive chefs.”

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SLCC students prepare cookies. They cook food up in the Capitol as part of their culinary arts program. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Lee)

Krenicky said she used to work in the restaurant business but decided she wanted something different.

“It’s a different clientele; it’s a different style,” Krenicky said. “We do everything from quick service to all the way up to fine dining.”

The students learn a variety of cooking for both casual and formal environments. They serve food in the cafeteria on a daily basis but also cater for larger and more formal events.

A few of the students, according to Krenicky, are students with disabilities who come in unaware of their talent and ability — they often end up learning to do things they never thought they could do.

Her favorite part of the job, she said, is watching the students achieve dreams they never thought possible.

“We have to think quick on our feet; everything changes at the drop of a hat, and we have to be able to accommodate that. It’s opened my eyes and my abilities at the same time.”

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