This summer, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts will be celebrating the first anniversary of their open-to-public Top Restaurant. Launched on June 2nd 2014, the restaurant was established to enrich the Jordanian culinary scene with an upgraded dining experience cooked and served by its talented students. The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts graduate and restaurant manager Jennifer Totary gave us a very interesting in-depth look into this one-of-a-kind venture.
Delivering an exceptional and innovative dinning experience was a side product of this project, where the main goal of it is to teach the students undergoing their in-house internship the basics and standards of running a successful, fully operational restaurant. “The students of the Academy have to complete two essential practical internships to be eligible to be awarded a culinary certificate; the third and last semesters of the two-years program.” says Jennifer. “The students used to undertake both internships at five-star hotels or fine dinning restaurants in Jordan or abroad. Since last year, the academy’s curriculum has changed to have the first internship at the Top Restaurant and the second at a five-star hotel offering excellent on-hand training experience for the students studying at the academy.”
The à la carte menu showcases modern cuisine with Arabic flavors infused in international dishes. “The engineering of the menu is one of the most important aspects of the internship as it is developed by the students and guided by the Academy’s Director Chef Marcus Kalberer and the Senior Culinary Instructor Chef Bruno Cardone.” adds the manager. The short yet well-written menu incorporates organic, local and imported ingredients to assure the consistency of the flavors as well as the end product served to the restaurant’s guests. The use of such ingredients catches the attention of the guests as the menu keeps changing according to the seasonally available products. “Our aim is to incorporate the farm-to-table concept at the Top Restaurant and support local farmers. Such an initiative will help sustain the production of local produce as well as ensure that our guests are being served the best and most flavorful ingredients sourced from local farms.”
While the menu is served on a daily basis at the restaurant, special menus are served at special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving. “Such occasions allow us to cook customized menus that are developed to match each occasion. The pumpkin menu we served and the recent collaboration with Carakale microbrewery is another way to showcase the creativity and enthusiasm the students have towards the culinary industry.” explains Jennifer. “The students are challenged to create menus by using or incorporating specific ingredients. The result of the research and the hard work pays off with menus that have so far amazed all of our guests.”
With education as the top priority, the Academy’s students have been challenged to organize more than one cocktail reception serving canapés and finger-food items. These cocktail receptions require a different menu, venue setup and service techniques each time, allowing the students to implement what they have learned in different, challenging scenarios and environments. The level of skill of the students is reflected in the different cooking techniques applied in the Top’s distinguished menu. Mastering simple techniques such as grilling, pan-frying and sautéing is an essential part of the internship. New and modern cooking techniques ranging from sous-vide, in-house smoking, and incorporating molecular cuisine are taught to the students and applied in the restaurant’s rich menu. With its unique use of ingredients, the Top Restaurant uses every day ingredients to tell a delicious, surprising story through the impeccable pairing of these ingredients. “Our signature olive oil cake with tahini ice cream is the perfect example of such creativity and unusual ingredients fusion.”
*Pictures courtesy of The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts