On May 19, Pittsburgh's Institute of Culinary Arts opened Technique to Go, a student-run, fast-food operation selling sandwiches, pizza, salads and soup. The Downtown kitchen, open through the summer, serves as a complement to Technique at Le Cordon Bleu, the school's sit-down restaurant, which opened in January.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity for students to experience more of the fast-paced element of the restaurant business," says Le Cordon Bleu's William Hunt, dean of culinary arts. "[Customers] from local businesses really like it. And student response has been very positive."
Lunch here is tasty and inexpensive. A grilled-to-order chicken-breast sandwich, topped with sun-dried-tomato pesto aioli, avocado and arugula, on focaccia bread is $6. For another dollar, add a side of potato salad or fresh fruit.
According to Hunt, the generously portioned sides are very popular, especially the roasted beets, served with gorgonzola and pecans. "It really shocked us," he says. "But who else is doing fresh beets?"
Other freshly cooked options at Technique to Go -- which is staffed by seven students and designed to get customers in and out within minutes -- include a salmon salad ($8) and BBQ pork sandwich ($6).
Hunt says he's happy with the lunch counter's operation. But, he adds, "My fear is getting a really good client base by the end of the summer and having to close."
Open most weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 808 Liberty Ave., Downtown.