ST. CLOUD -- In our second installment of Cuisine Unseen, we highlight the lunches prepared by future chefs honing their craft at the Culinary Arts program at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

The technical and community college has become a popular lunchtime destination for locals who enjoy the meals prepared by the 32 culinary students led by Head Chef Jay Thomas.

"[The] foods that I serve are whatever I'm teaching," Thomas says.

On this particular day, the program was in its sandwich section preparing Reuben and chicken Philly sandwiches, but Thomas says the students will learn to prepare all kinds of meals.

"[We do] poultry, seafood, steak cutting...we'll pair up steak and crab," Thomas says.

Those who attend the tech college for lunch can expect a different menu every day with very modestly-priced meals.

"My students need to be busy and if I raise the prices too high, the student population can't afford it," Thomas says.

"My most expensive meal I serve here is steak and crab - $7.50 for steak and crab, a twice-baked potato, salad, beverage, everything."

As a non-profit organization, Thomas says all he is concerned with is covering food costs.

Thomas says that he enjoys getting to prepare a different varieties of dishes every week, but getting to teach is the most rewarding aspect of the job.

"It's really kind of a great feeling to watch one of your past students be successful, [for instance], being an executive chef at a fancy hotel," Thomas says.

"It gives you a good feeling of accomplishment."

The culinary program serves lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON