Culinary Institute of Michigan opens restaurant

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Photo - In this photo taken on Thursday, April 17, 2014, Shawn Kraft sanitizes a surface before preparing a dish at the Courses restaurant at Baker College Culinary Institute of Michigan in Port Huron, Mich. Courses provides students hands-on experience with a restaurant environment (AP Photo/The Port Huron Times Herald, )Jeffrey Smith  NO SALES
In this photo taken on Thursday, April 17, 2014, Shawn Kraft sanitizes a surface before preparing a dish at the Courses restaurant at Baker College Culinary Institute of Michigan in Port Huron, Mich. Courses provides students hands-on experience with a restaurant environment (AP Photo/The Port Huron Times Herald, )Jeffrey Smith NO SALES
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PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — Baker College of Port Huron's culinary students are putting their skills to the test.

The Culinary Institute of Michigan's learning restaurant, Courses, opened Thursday. It will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday starting this week, according to the Times Herald of Port Huron (http://bwne.ws/1ti1KTQ ).

Second-year students prepare and serve the food in the restaurant. Instructors are close to help and/or inspect their work.

"Port Huron doesn't have anything like this — this class of food," said Port Huron resident Shannon Gray as she waited for her food.

Her lunch partner, Dianne Johns, of Fort Gratiot, agreed.

"This is nice, and it's reasonable," she said.

Appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts are available at the reservation-only restaurant. The last reservation is at 1:15 p.m. when the class ends. Entrees feature beef, salmon, pasta and chicken, as well as soup-and-sandwich-combination meals, ranging from $7 to $12.

Up to 46 guests can fit in the dining room.

All of the food is homemade down to the cheese used on the salad, said Chef Thomas Recinella, program director of culinary arts, food and beverage management.

"It's just a great place to be. It's a great atmosphere, every seat has a beautiful view of the river and the bridge," he said.

The restaurant also has a full-service bar with several Michigan beers on tap.

The institute has 70 culinary students with about a dozen food and beverage management students, Recinella said. The first class at the main campus started in fall 2012. The first group of students will graduate in December.

Jessie Marie Taylor, 24, of Port Huron is a member of the inaugural class.

"It's amazing, beyond words," Taylor said. "I'm thrilled every day to approach the building, be in the building, and some days it's hard to leave because I actually enjoy this every day and every opportunity to learn something new."

Taylor said she plans to open Jessie Marie's Bed and Breakfast when she graduates.

She said the restaurant offers a new type of dining in Port Huron.

Student Caitlyn Paraski, 20, of Clinton Township, said the restaurant's food is "awesome."

"It's a fine-dining experience for so cheap, and it's just great," he said.

Paraski expects to graduate in the fall. She said she hopes to work as a chef at Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

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Information from: Times Herald, http://www.thetimesherald.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Times Herald (Port Huron).

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