Oh how I pitied the poor souls just feet away who couldn’t partake in my delights! My knife cut into the plump steak topped with delicately sautéed onions while my friend nibbled a beautiful, bright Salmon resting on a bed of feathered kale… and outside our restaurant window we could see bored students typing on laptops while a professor chatted away.

We truly were inside a restaurant, but we were also in a college…. In a working classroom actually.

We were dining inside The Tutored Chef– the little restaurant run by the culinary students at the Art Institute of Tampa.

Normally, I wouldn’t subject my stomach to being a guinea pig, but a quick glance at their menu made the risk seem worth it. All these dishes… all these gourmet meals… everything was priced between $2.50 to $6.50. I would be helping students practice their craft while getting a delicious, low-priced meal in return. Win-win situation.

Trio of Cod Fritters [Student Run Restaurant the Tutored Chef |]
A Trio of Cod Fritters as one of the appetizers
We all opted for the four-course meal for the whopping price of $16 so we could try a range of their offerings. We began with plates of crispy Cod Fritters and Sweet Potato Samosas followed by our salads. My Salmon over the crispy Kale drizzled with a citrus, mustard-based dressing was probably the tastiest dish in the group. My friends enjoyed the grilled, Jerk Shrimp over their lettuce salad but wished there was more than three shrimp.

Next, our Balsamic Steak arrived over fluffy Mashed Potatoes and crispy, roasted shreds of Brussel Sprouts. I thought the seasoning was a tad salty while others enjoyed it. Similarly, the cute, balls of sorbet were nicely sweetened with fruit but the sourness pierced through the fragile flavors.

Salmon Salad and the Steak Entree [Student Run Restaurant the Tutored Chef |]
[Foreground] The Salmon over a salad of Kale [Background] Balsamic Steak over Mashed Potatoes and roasted Brussel Sprouts
The food was a great demonstration of cooking skills, styles, and flavor and overall the students succeeded.

However timing was not their strongest suit. Just glance at their Facebook page where most of the posts submitted by guests are asking what the hours are (every semester the hours of operation vary and neither their Facebook page nor their website seem to display it easily). Another example involved how the long time it took from being seated to placing orders- 15 minutes and the restaurant was only half full. Our main entrees also materialized just as we had taken our first bites of the salad. Somehow one of my friends received her dessert before she had received her main course.

Despite that, this was a delicious experience; I plan to introduce other food lovers to the talents of The Tutored Chef and their changing menu. My table agreed this dining experience was unique and the school had future cooking stars on board. We will definitely return.

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