By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Jack Herrel finished a Thanksgiving lunch with a piece of pumpkin pie and a dollop of whipped cream and pronounced it “awesome.”
As he paid restaurant manager Dianna Mitchell for his meal, he told her, “It’s as good as any restaurant.”
He then apologized for having to leave so quickly after eating, but said pressing business at the office meant he had to get back to work.
Herrel, finance director for the village of West Jefferson, joined more than 25 West Jefferson senior citizens for an early Thanksgiving lunch held Nov. 14 at Saffron, a restaurant operated by culinary arts students at Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City.
The group from West Jeffreson dined on pulled chicken appetizers, roast beef au jus, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, Mexican corn, spinach salad, rolls, coffee, iced tea, lemonade and, for dessert, a choice of pumpkin or pecan pie or apple tart.
The food was prepared and served by students who attend Tolles from the Hilliard, Dublin, West Jefferson, Jonathan Alder, London, Fairbanks and Madison-Plains districts. The high school juniors and seniors learn what it takes to operate a restaurant, including how to improvise when everything doesn’t go according to plan.
“We were going to serve you turkey, but it didn’t get thawed out in time,” said Chef Gregg Needles, who oversees the culinary arts program. “We’ll have it for you the next time.”
The Thanksgiving lunch was the second time members of the Jeffersonians Senior Citizens chose to eat lunch at Saffron.
“We came out last year for Christmas dinner and decided to come back,” said Ada Cochran. “We’re coming back for Christmas.”
Saffron, which can seat up to 50 diners at tables and in booths, is open to the public for lunch three days a week, Needles said.
During regular school days, the public can go for lunch between noon and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Reservations are encouraged (614-873-4666, ext. 237) but not required, said Amber Riley, Tolles public information officer.
For the buffet-style Thanksgiving lunch, diners paid $7.49. A gratuity is not included in the price, but tips are accepted.
“Tips go back into the program,” Needles said. The proceeds help to pay entry fees for students who participate in cook-offs.
The culinary arts program is just one of many Tolles programs with which the public can interact.
“I brought a truck over for the automotive students,” said West Jefferson councilman Doug Eakins. “But you have to be prepared to leave the vehicle for a while.”
Other programs available to the public include: a day care operated by the early childhood education students; hair styling by the cosmetology students; plant sales by sports/turf/landscaping students; dog grooming and obedience training by the small animal care classes; and welding and carpentry.
For more information, call (614) 873-4666 or 1-800-644-3140, or go to www.tollestech.com. Tolles Career and Technical Center is located at 7877 U.S. Route 42 S. in Plain City.