89.1 WEMU

Hidden In Plain Sight: Eating And Learning At Garrett's Restaurant

Apr 9, 2018

Derek Anders Jr opens the door to Garrett’s restaurant at WCC.
Credit Lisa Barry

There is a lot to be gained from hands-on learning.  At Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, there’s a program that combines learning and eating that area residents can also benefit from.

89.1 WEMU’S Lisa Barry takes you to the campus restaurant that serves as a training experience for culinary and hospitality students at WCC open to the public, but Hidden in Plain Sight…

Derek Anders, Junior is a culinary arts instructor and chair of the Department of Culinary Arts at WCC.  He takes me through the front door of “Garrett’s Restaurant” in the student center at Washtenaw Community College.

Student employees gather around the chef to get updated on what’s happening that day in the kitchen.
Credit Lisa Barry

Before opening to the public, chef instructor Terri Herrera, who is certified through the American Culinary Federation and recently won “culinary educator of the year,” goes through the customary pre-opening restaurant information sharing, so the front house staff, including servers, know that’s happening in the kitchen.

Chef/instructor Terri Herrera talks to staff about what’s happening in the kitchen.
Credit Lisa Barry

That’s where student Darron Vanbuskirk was working and preparing food to serve to diners.

Student Emiliano Matteo is about to finish the program and go back to Argentina where he came here from 5 years ago.  He hopes to work in the hospitality industry and, hopefully, open his own food-related business.

Student Darron Vanbuskirk prepares food in the kitchen.
Credit Lisa Barry

Eva Samulski is the Dean of Business and Computer Technology at Washtenaw Community College.  She oversees the program and eats at the restaurant as well.

Derek Anders Jr admires one of the dishes served that day at Garrett’s restaurant.
Credit Lisa Barry

Alice Boss is a dining instructor and teaches business classes and is herself an alumni of the culinary program… graduating in the early 80’s.

Frozen coconut soufflé a house specialty dessert at Garrett’s.
Credit Lisa Barry

She looks at her position as working and instructing in a real-time lab environment open to the public.

The program started in 1971, and the dining room was updated in 2012.  Restaurant hours are based on when courses are scheduled.  It's open 11:30 a.m. until 12:45 p.m for lunch and 5:30 to 6:45 for evening service during the typical school year.  Anders says in addition to Garrett’s Restaurant being a learning experience for the students, he says diners will experience nice food, nice ambiance… at a lower price.

Emaliano Matteo is a student about to graduate from the program.
Credit Lisa Barry

Many of the students complete 3 years of their degree at WCC, then spend a year at Eastern Michigan University for one year, finishing with a hotel and restaurant bachelor’s degree.

A student-made bread basket at Garrett’s restaurant.
Credit Lisa Barry

Sandy Argas works at WCC and says she eats at the restaurant as often as she can because she’s a big fan.

Whether it’s for Schnitzel, which they were offering the day I was there, or their delicious frozen coconut soufflé--which I sampled to provide complete coverage for this story--now you know you have another restaurant option for dining in Washtenaw County.  Garrett's:  inside the student center on the WCC campus... hidden in plain sight.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu