As Chef’s Table enters its 13th year, the Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College is busy preparing students to perfect American culinary classics from Old Bay crab cakes to black pepper crusted eye of the round steak. This year Chef’s Table will transport guests across the United States with culinary experiences from the American South on June 4, a New England Chesapeake Bay Shore winemaker dinner on June 11, Florida Keys evening on June 25, Mexican border-inspired cuisine on July 2 and a Hawaiian winemaker dinner July 16.
Chef’s Table has made a name for itself in the Flathead Valley as an immersive and affordable five-course culinary event with food flown in fresh from the geographic regions featured. As a result, it often sells out in advance.
Staged in the kitchen, patrons are able to experience the sites, smells and flavors of exquisite dishes, while culinary students hone their skills in front of an audience and earn clinical credits. While the long-awaited event was put on hold in 2020 due to the global health crisis, Manda Hudak, program director of the culinary arts program and her students look forward to the return of this special and sought after happening.
“It’s an interactive and participatory dining experience,” said Hudak. “The thing that’s new to the program is that we laid over the experiential clinical work content around American regional cuisine.”
With product brought in from around the country, students learn to cook using a diverse array of cultural ingredients and cooking methods, sparking their curiosity about different flavor profiles, cultures and corners of the country.
“Students have to taste everything that they’re learning how to cook,” added Hudak. “They might not like it all, but they learn what something should taste like when it’s properly cooked.”
Hudak added that the event cultivates students’ hopes and dreams for the future by granting them an opportunity to practice the role of chef and host, roles she said bring joy into the world.
Chef’s Table was founded by FVCC’s executive chef, Howard Karp, who brings 50 years of experience to the culinary program and a vast range of experiences, from five-star Swiss hotels to Super Bowl Commissioner parties. Hudak also contributes an impressive background to the Culinary Institute, previously serving as the private chef to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Lester Korn, and in roles at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the prestigious Jonathan Club and the exclusive Ocean Reef Club.
For more information about Chef’s Table and to reserve your tickets today, visit www.fvcc.edu/chefs-table. To limit the spread of COVID-19, culinary students will be masked and parties will be socially distanced.
To learn more about Hudak and Karp’s efforts to inspire and educate the next generation of culinary artists at the Culinary Institute of Montana, visit fvcc.edu/culinary-arts. The priority deadline for student applications for the culinary arts program is June 17.