One look at the food at 5ifty Forks Restaurant and you'd think you were in the hands of cooks with decades of culinary experience—which is true, in part. Two professional chefs oversee the kitchen, but the lion’s share of the work—from menu creation to presentation—is carried out by students of the culinary program at The Art Institute of California - Orange County.
Drawing on what they’ve learned, the chefs-in-training run both the on-campus eatery's front-of-house operation and exhibition kitchen, where diners can watch their meals being made. To create the frequently changing menus, students rely on locally sourced ingredients, including many grown in the restaurant's own garden.
Recently, those fresh items have found their way into dishes such as roast quail with fig marmalade and desserts such as chocolate caramel tart with malted milk chocolate ice cream. In the dining room, natural light illumines seasonal installations by local artists, creating a warm atmosphere where patrons are invited to linger and provide students with feedback.