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Student Services

Looking for a gourmet meal on a budget? Look no further!

Courses restaurant, inside the Art Institute of Houston, is completely run by students. It's a service many schools offer, including the school of the Culinary Arts of Kendall College where Chris Koetke, host of the Live Well Network's "Let's Dish" is the executive director.

"This is the business, for the majority of the students who are working in the restaurant business, this is how it is - you come in, you have prep work that needs to be done in anticipation of a coming service," said Michael Bargas, Interim Academic Director Art Institute Houston. "They need to be ready to go when the orders come in, be able to execute properly and get it out in a timely fashion."

It's invaluable hands-on experience that can only be learned by actually doing it.

"As the quarters progress, you learn more and more feel more confident and now I'm here and I get to run like an operation, like a restaurant - like establishment, it's a lot of fun, lot of growing, said student Chase Luberger.

Like Chase, most of the students in the class are just a few months away from graduation.

"Coming here, I guess it was about a year and a half ago, was like starting college all over again because I graduated from college previously and made a career change," he said.

The former business salesman decided to finally pursue his passion. And, while he already has a job working in a restaurant kitchen, this degree will make it official.

The students not only get to work in the kitchen, but they gain important experience in the front of the house as well.

"Employers want you to be flexible, they want you, too, if they are short hostesses or servers, they want you to be able to do that," said student Tessa Lyon.

And while they are in charge, the students have several professors observing to make sure everything goes on without a hitch.

"To be in this class you are really at the point of graduating, so everything on the menu we've made before, we've prepped before, we've talked about it, we understand the ingredients that go into a dish," Chase said.

The best part, in my opinion, is the price!

"With students, we have very low labor costs so we're able to deliver our food at a very competitive price," said Chef Bargas.

The most expensive meal on this menu was $8.50. Dinners are around $40 for a four course meal.

"You're also getting international cuisine you're not getting just the basics, you're getting cuisine's from all around the world and you're sometimes getting in on the same menu so you can try something that's continental or American, but also that menu might have something Indian, something Italian, something with an Asian flare," said Natalia Derevyanna, Regional Public Relations Manager for the Art Institute.

The discounts aren't limited to the culinary department.

"We have over 45 Art Institutes and we have programs in culinary, fashion, media and design," she said. "If people are looking for somebody to do graphic design for them or to do web work for them or what have you, our students are always looking for opportunities to be able to apply that work to the real world while they're still in school, so they're always looking for opportunities where they can work for an organization or someone and show off those skills and build their portfolios."

"It's a win, win situation for everyone," Tessa said.

Vocational-technical schools and post-secondary trade schools may offer haircuts, dental and construction work as well as auto repairs at discounted rates. You should call the schools in your area to ask what services and events they offer for the community.

For more information visit

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