Students prepare food during the Pangea Cafe Takeover Event

Summer 2018 — Dietetic, nutrition and food service students learned valuable skills in OSU’s NUTR 447 course this spring. Nicknamed the “Pangea class,” this upper-division nutrition course prepares students for the world of food service by managing a university restaurant. The 34 students who enrolled were tasked with hosting the annual Pangea Cafe Take-Over Event, an immersive learning opportunity.

For one week this spring, students controlled every aspect of daily cafe operations. With a different menu each day, these nutrition students had their plates full, literally. The course instructors supported the students as they navigated recipe selection, food testing, menu design, financial forecasting, event marketing and the final execution of the event. The students were in control and decided how they want to approach these aspects of restaurant management and gain interest in the event.

Student shows off her Tongue Thai'd t-shirt

Audrey Reeves shows off her Tongue Thai'd t-shirt at the event.

The cafe takeover provides students with real-world experience that relates to their careers. Because the event relies highly on teamwork, collaboration is the key to successful execution.

“It’s cool to work with students who aren’t necessarily in the same college that I am because it helps me to understand what it’s like to work in an actual workplace,” said Samara Hoffman, a senior nutrition and food service systems student. “We are always working with people of different skill sets.”

Robyn Jones, co-instructor for the course, agreed. “It is so satisfying to see a group of students come together to complete a real-life project. They truly have to rely on each other to pull this event off and they realize the importance of teamwork,” Jones said.

While it is a labor-intensive and high-pressure project, students recognize how beneficial this class is to their overall success. The Pangea Take-Over Event summarizes what students have learned the past four years and gives them a structure to implement a pop-up restaurant.

“This is a great capstone class for these students even if they don’t recognize it at the time,” Jones says. “They get to take everything they have learned in their classes and incorporate it into a living, breathing project.”