Rich Fare for a Broke Student

Once tuition dues have been paid and textbooks have been ordered, the average college student may find themselves in a predicament many of us face. The money left over can often limit the necessities we need or things we want.

Thankfully, the Culinary Arts program offered by Cypress College will leave you wondering, “How am I getting such a high dining, three course experience for only fifteen dollars?” During the fall 2018 semester, I was fortunate enough to experience the Cypress Bistro as a patron during their final meal of the semester, consisting of Latin ‘Floribbean’ fare.

The Cypress Bistro is a student-run program staffed by both students of the Culinary Arts program- working in the kitchen- and Hospitality Management- working the front of the house- where the restaurant resides on the NOCCCD (North Orange County Community College District) Anaheim Campus. Professor and Department Coordinator Jeremy Peters oversees the kitchen, along with other faculty, and works with the student chefs on preparing the dishes presented for that day.

Lisa Clark is the Professor of Hospitality Management and worked alongside thirteen servers during the fall semester to help prepare them for the experience of working in a high dining setting. The level of professionalism created the impression of a fine-dining restaurant, leaving one stunned at the ability of these Cypress College students.

Floribbean cuisine is derived from the southern regions of Florida and heavily influenced by the cultural cuisine of the outlying Caribbean islands. As an overall base, or table set, the restaurant- which housed about 70 people, including college staff, former students, and regular customers- were given fresh plantain chips as they waited.

A mango coconut shrimp ceviche was chosen as the starter, complemented by taro chips to provide a salty, acidic balance to the richness of the sweet coconut shrimp. The entrée was a coconut crusted mahi mahi, with a sweet potato hash, and pineapple salsa with a base layer of papaya sauce. Lastly, for dessert guava cheesecake was paired with a coconut ice cream over a bed of crushed cheesecake crust.

A beneficial aspect of the program is that none of the food ever goes to waste- the leftovers (minus the bones, trash, plastic, and glass) are sent over to a Barley’s Farm, a farm local to the area, for the pigs to have.

Beginning on Thursday, Feb. 21 and occurring every Thursday following, the Bistro will be open to the public from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, offering a new region of dishes, with the last three weeks being “showcase weeks,” where the students present their inspired dishes based on specific regions.

Spring 2019’s Bistro catalog of international fare is online and will be overseen by Lisa Clark and Amanda Gargano with co-chair Department Coordinators Jeremy Peters and Stephanie Rosati who will also help prepare their students create international fare from regions such Sicily, Lebanon, Vietnam and many more. To reserve a seating, email Chef Tracey Heine at It should be noted that parties of four or fewer for dine-in are preferred as “to create an optimal learning environment.” The Bistro can be followed on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook via the account name @CypressBistro.

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