First course at JJC's 2013 Spring Gala: salmon and Alaskan crab sauteed with an orange chive beurre blanc, poached salmon, crispy smoked salmon and crab fritter, horesradish tarragon pistou and tomato plank. | Submitted photo
At A Glance
What: Spring Gala
When: 6 p.m. April 19. Appetizers will be served on the bridge until 7 p.m. A six-course dinner will begin at 7:15 p.m.
Where: Joliet Junior College, Main Campus, J-Building
Tickets: $95 per person. Reservations will be accepted up to the day of the event, if availability permits. 1
Reserve: Call Dori Miller at 815-280-2255.
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:25AM
At a command from the captain, the Joliet Junior College freshman culinary arts students will file out with the first course of the 2013 Spring Gala, stand behind the patron’s chair and wait for the second command.
When that is given, the students will serve the course in a synchronous and elegant manner. They then will return to the kitchen, organize the glassware for the next course, return to remove the dishes and silverware and reset the place settings. The following scenario will be repeated for the remaining courses.
This is not the Spring Gala of past years.
Instead of the traditional banquet atmosphere — round tables with multiple place settings and floral centerpieces — this year’s benefit gala features Escoffier-style seating: one long U-shaped table with seating for 160 people, reminiscent of the formal dinners of royalty from ages past.
“Usually you have the same eight people talking to each other with the next banquet table being 10 feet away,” said Chef Michael McGreal, culinary arts/hospitality management department chairman at Joliet Junior College. “This year, everyone will be sitting at this large community table. This allows them to visit with the people around them.”
Escoffier-style seating also makes it easier for McGreal to engage in conversation with all the gala’s patrons. He compares the difference to a wedding reception. As much as the bride and groom try to make the rounds and chat with every guest, it’s difficult to do when tables are grouped.
“While I’m talking with several people, those next to them can listen and mingle, too,” McGreal said. “There will be a greater sense of sharing.”
Following original, themed appetizers prepared by the culinary arts students, the six-course dinner will feature salmon and Alaskan crab, wild game consommé printanier a la royale, local field greens with chive dijon vinaigrette, red currant, ribeye of beef and chocolate and raspberry charlotte royal and amaretto ice cream.
Three captains will be giving the commands: culinary arts adjunct professor Eric Bell, Joliet Junior College supervisor and wedding planner Susan Stockwell and culinary arts student and competition team member Amy Gutierrez.
Instead of two wines — a white and red — four total will be served at the gala to allow for a greater wine-pairing experience. Assisting culinary arts professor Chef Timothy Bucci is a member of JJC’s award-winning culinary competition team, which recently earned a high gold medal at the state competition and will compete at the regional event April 28-May 1 in Arkansas.
Also gone this year are individual ice carvings. Replacing them is one giant, three-quarter-ton display that the ice carving students will create in precision-carved sections and then assemble and balance in the dining area.
“This takes our ice carving to a whole new level,” McGreal said.
Seventy-five percent of gala proceeds will be allocated toward student scholarships ($500 to $1,000 each), educational equipment purchases and/or faculty professional development and skill enhancement activities. Students will be awarded scholarships at the gala.
“In some way, all funds come back to the students,” McGreal said.