For those who would like to enjoy a meal made with the highest quality ingredients while supporting sustainable agriculture as well as your local economy, look no further than the University of Illinois College of ACES very own Bevier Cafe!
The Cafe is operated by students in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Students in the Quantity Food Preparation and Service course (FSHN 340) have two hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of lab work in the Cafe every week for fifteen weeks. During this time, students are required to both staff and manage the restaurant.
Every day, Chef Jean-Louis Ledent and his students serve up four entrees, including one which is made primarily with local ingredients. Not everything in the dish is necessarily local, due to some ingredients such as olive oil not being produced locally, explains Ledent. The main ingredient and majority of the dish,however, is from a local farm.
For Chef Ledent, the primary incentive for buying locally when possible is the unsurpassable quality, but Ledent also cites supporting a more sustainable form of agriculture and supporting the local economy as other important benefits.
The process also provides students with a different perspective. “When they see our regular suppliers coming with their big trucks at the loading docks, with cases and cases of stuff, it's one thing. But when they see the farmers themselves with one or two bags of produce from their own fields, and they're not perfectly clean or all the same size...I think that's a really good experience for the students,” Ledent said. “That's part of the reason that I added that special dish to the menu. When the students are working in a kitchen somewhere, I hope they remember that.”
The local dish generally costs around 50 cents more than the non-local dishes, but almost always sells better, Ledent said. “The customers have been very receptive to this.”
Bevier Cafe is entirely self-supporting, and profits from sales are put into repairing or replacing equipment in the kitchen or cafe.
Chef Ledent earned his culinary degree from the Ecole d’Hotellerie de Liege in Belgium, and taught at the College Saint Francoise d’Assise, a culinary institute in Belgium. He has over two decades of culinary experience.For location, menus and hours of operation, please visit the Bevier Cafe website.