Chefs in the Making
Chefs di Domani Restaurant
Tucked into an unassuming building in the middle of a swath of chain restaurants off Memorial Road, there’s a place where you can taste the work of professionally trained chefs in the making. After months of absorbing information from top chefs, learning the skills of the trade, and polishing their knowledge of cuisines from around the world, students at Platt College descend on Chefs di Domani, the restaurant within the school.
Like in any other profession, learning in the classroom and applying your skills in the real world are very different. At Chefs di Domani, they get 14 weeks of real world experience in the fast-paced restaurant business. And the entire operation is student-run.
In the kitchen, they learn to prep, cook, and plate dishes quickly and accurately. While rotating in the front of the house, students learn the most important part of any restaurant experience: hospitality. And throughout both rotations, they’re learning countless other skills necessary in the culinary world, like bookkeeping and managing inventory. “Every student grows here and leaves equipped to take on a career in the restaurant industry,” said Kristen Wilkins, Dining Room Instructor and Externship Coordinator at Platt College.
If you have the chance to meet Kristen at Chefs di Domani, you’ll quickly see why students are able to absorb so much about service. She oozes hospitality, and the experience you get in Chefs di Domani reflects that. Even though the students that served me lunch had only been in their rotation for a few days, they were enthusiastic, attentive, and incredibly friendly. “Even if you aren’t a server, you have to take care of your guests,” noted Kristen, “A lot of people say, ‘I went to culinary school so I could hide in a kitchen all day.’ But a lot of diners today want to meet their chefs and see the faces behind their meal.”
A former Platt College graduate, Kristen has seen first hand how students that leave the culinary program still remain “part of the family.” They learn and grow in their careers, taking on jobs ranging from local fine dining restaurants, to ski resorts and cruise ships. And after they graduate from Platt College and move up into Executive Chef roles, they often hire other graduates. They know the quality of education students get at Platt College, and trust them in their kitchen. As one of only eight certified Exemplary culinary programs by the American Culinary Federation in the nation, Platt College students learn from the best of the best behind the stove and in front of guests.
Work in the kitchen is supervised by Chef Don Thiery during lunch hours. A former Executive Chef at places like Quail Creek Country Club and the Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel, Don teaches students how to prepare and plate a wide variety of dishes. They have an incredible chicken salad sandwich on housemade bread, and I’ve heard the pasta there is delicious too. Everything is prepared fresh, and all of the components are made right in house, from the baked goods to the sauces. Being in the trenches with students during busy hours, Don sees first hand how they handle stress. “When there’s a rush, a person’s true character shows.” Experiencing that stress builds stronger chefs that are more prepared to contribute to even the busiest restaurant. “We’re the last ditch effort to teach students how to be better chefs before they go out in the real world,” he added. After over a year of study and a few month rotation in Chefs di Domani, students are out of the college for a 12 week externship, and into the real world.
Students in the Platt College culinary program come from all sorts of backgrounds, some with years of restaurant experience, and others fresh out of high school. Student Samuel Lane made his way to Platt College from Lubbock, Texas, after working in a fast casual restaurant. His experience at Platt College and Chefs di Domani will prove invaluable in his future restaurant career, which he hopes will take him to “an escalated, but not quite fine dining restaurant.” What stands out to Samuel about his education here is the quality of chefs that teach each course. “The chefs are all so talented, but they’re also all so different. They’re varied in the way they teach and cook, so you learn a little more about the kind of chef you want to be from each class.”
What’s so exciting about visiting Chefs di Domani is seeing the future chefs of the world in action. You also get to try stellar food at an incredibly low price. It’s the perfect spot for lunch if you work in Northwest Oklahoma City. You can avoid a busy chain or fast food restaurant, get in and out in less than an hour, and come out with a tab under $10. And who knows - maybe some day soon, the student who prepared your meal at Chefs di Domani may be whipping up five star tasting menus in the future.
Chefs di Domani at Platt College is located just off Kilpatrick Turnpike at 2727 W. Memorial Rd. They’re open Wednesday-Friday from 11am–2pm and 6pm–9pm.