MISSION COLLEGE : Students Served at Food Lab ‘Cafe’

Despite having no cafeteria, students at Mission College in Sylmar can find gourmet meals once a week on campus--although sometimes they have to eat other students’ mistakes.

Cafe 1006, operated by instructors and students in the college’s Culinary Arts Institute, recently began offering lunch and dinner every Wednesday to help compensate for the lack of food service on campus. The only other food available on campus is from a catering truck.

The new service was named for the room number of the food lab, where beginning and advanced food production students prepare the meals and serve them in the lab’s dining area. More than 50 students are enrolled in the two-year program, training to become cooks, junior chefs and restaurant and hotel managers.

The “cafe’s” menu changes each week, but offers everything from shrimp tempura and Cajun chicken to quesadillas and cheesecake, all made from scratch.


“The students get their practical training by selling the food to the students and getting their input,” said Rudy Garcia, a certified executive chef who is one of three professors directing the program.

So far, most of the reviews from customers have been good.

“They sell out every single week,” said Cafe 1006 student Linda Victor, 31, a teacher who is considering changing her career and going into food service.

The prices are bargains. A leg of chicken and rice can cost as little as $1.25, while a serving at a pasta bar is priced at $1.50.


Occasionally, though, dishes do receive failing grades from student critics. In these cases, including a recent batch of cupcakes and a pot of black beans, Garcia said, the would-be chefs have to learn from their mistakes by eating them.

Most of the time, however, food lab students are doing all they can to keep up with the hunger of fellow students.

And college officials are so optimistic about the venture that they have decided to purchase new tables and chairs in hopes of someday offering breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week.

A full-fledged restaurant could become a reality within five years if the state finances a proposed institutional building, officials said.