NMSU culinary students gain hands-on production experience

Coronavirus New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Even though COVID-19 shut down a student-run cafe at New Mexico State University, one instructor found a way to keep the students employed while gaining hands-on experience. One student says his experience shifted from serving customers face to face, to working behind the scenes making products people across the state can buy.

Since the Sam Steel Cafe at NMSU was closed due to the public health order. Several student employees shifted to ACES foods, a student-run food production company in the College of Agriculture. Most of the students who work in the cafe have culinary-related majors and working on the production side of things gave them a chance to make goods for local companies like Landmark Mercantile and Legacy Pecans.

“This gave them the opportunity to see those items being made. the gelatos and the baked goods and all that so they really got a more hands-on approach to what they are selling customers,” says Whitney Blickem, ACES Food Program Manager.

Students say the unexpected shift gave them real-world work experience that they can use in the future. “Job wise it is they are both great jobs and I really do enjoy both sides and definitely hope to mix the two in the future possibly,” Connor Olson, Hotel Restaurant Tourism Management Major.

The ACES food program manager says they are working to make some of the cafe’s popular items, like hot chocolate mixes and brownies for sale online. No word yet on if the cafe will be able to reopen for the spring semester.

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