Imagine a bustling restaurant kitchen: steam rises from a
bubbling pot on the grill and people run around preparing food and
taking it out to customers. Now, throw in a guest lecturer.
This was the scene Monday morning when Jenna Johansen, an
executive chef who runs two restaurants in Denver, visited the
Aspen Grille kitchen in the Lory Student Center.
The Aspen Grille, on the second floor of the student center,
offers students a chance to work hands-on in a restaurant and also
offers a sit-down restaurant atmosphere in contrast to the typical
fast-food scene on campus.
“It’s a great opportunity to come work hands-on,” said Kailey
Gordon, a restaurant and resort management senior who works at the
grille. “In Fort Collins it’s hard to get a job without experience,
so it’s good for students to learn.”
Students are encouraged to come try the grille.
“People who don’t want fast food can go to a sit-down place for
lunch. It’s quiet and has a nice atmosphere, and people should come
support their fellow students,” Gordon said.
CSU students provide both the food and the service at the Aspen
“It’s very intimate and has very good food for average
restaurant prices,” said Ryan Perry, a restaurant and resort
management senior who works at the grille. “Everyone here is young
and it’s student-run.”
Johansen was at the grille as a guest chef. She created the menu
for the day and talked to students who work there.
“I’ll be making a few items and leaving the recipes,” Johansen
said. “There will some interaction with students.”
During her time in the kitchen, she told the students about her
background. She graduated from CSU in 1997 and spent a year in
Italy learning about Italian food. She runs two restaurants in
Greenwood Village in Denver: Ventura Grille, an eclectic American
food restaurant, and Octoillo, a southwestern restaurant.
Johansen also offered cooking and career advice to the
Students were able to watch as Johansen prepared the food,
testing different spices and sauces, trying to get just the right
Ken Smith, an associate restaurant and resort management
professor, was responsible for bringing Johansen to CSU.
“I try to bring alumni guest chefs in,” Smith said. “It’s good
to have role models, because many of these students want to run
their own restaurants, and it’s good to have a role model,
especially a woman.”
For the students, there are several benefits to having a guest
“It’s like having a guest lecturer, but we get to eat her food,”