Fifty students, community members and their children were invited to the Culinary Education Center’s (CEC) first ever Dinner With Santa on Dec. 16 in Asbury Park.
Families were offered a wide range of activities and programs – including coloring books and opportunities to sit on Santa’s lap – along with a five-star culinary experience prepared by the CEC’s student chefs.
Festive offerings included artichoke fritters; marinated grapes with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted almonds; Alaskan salmon; NY strip steak; French cut chicken; festive desserts and a selection of kid-themed dishes such as macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers.
Children were also granted exclusive access to a “Viennese Table,” offering holiday cookies, cupcakes, candy bars, fresh popcorn, hot chocolate and more.
Brookdale culinary arts chair Michelle Zuppe joined faculty, staff, students and CEC principal and co-director Michael Sirianni at the inaugural event, which was an apparent hit with both children and parents alike.
“The overall response to this event was truly overwhelming,” Sirianni said. “The children were overjoyed, anticipating the arrival of Santa and being able to spend some time with him.
“It was more than just sitting on Santa’s lap and reciting their Christmas wishes,” he added. “Here, at the CEC, the children were able to spend with him one on one. They played games, colored pictures, and created an an art project, while being able to participate in a fine dining experience with their loved ones.”
Many CEC students were able to bring to their own children to the event, introducing them to Santa while showing off their culinary skills and giving them a tour of the culinary center. It also provided students with an important lesson in creating a unique, holiday-themed dining experience for guests, Sirianni said.
“The success of our program, and our students’ learning experience, relies on guest dining at the CEC,” he said.
The CEC offers a wide range of unique events and holiday-themed dining experience throughout the year, including a widely anticipated Valentine’s Day dinner at the center in February. Regularly dinner service is offered throughout the year.
To learn more about the CEC or to inquire about reservations, call 732-224-3782 or click here.
Check out more photos of the dinner here.
Photos by Mark DeYoung, College Relations intern.