Have you checked out a Kelty’s Kafe lunch yet?

That’s me!

Greetings Ivy Tech staff and students, Fort Wayne community, and anyone else who got lucky enough to stumble upon Green Light. My name is Jackson Bates, and I am an intern in the marketing office at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast. I am currently a senior in the communication department across the street at IPFW and, in a much-needed change of pace from literature reviews and term papers, I will be contributing my two cents on some events happening at Ivy Tech this semester. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to see the audio slideshow I put together featuring this week’s Kelty’s student chef, Theresa Thurston.)

I have come a long way since plain cheeseburgers and ham sandwiches, and now that I am a little older and have developed somewhat of an experienced palate, I am ready to join the ranks of Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay. OK, maybe I don’t have a solid background in critically analyzing food, and so what if I still like my cheeseburgers plain—I have to start somewhere. And what better place than Ivy Tech Northeast’s Kelty’s Kafé, a student-run restaurant in Anthony Commons on North Campus. This semester’s Kelty’s Kafé is bringing a little bit of everything to the table (pun intended). Students in hospitality administration will be dishing out (I can do this all day) all types of delicious meals from Italian, Greek, and pub food to Caribbean, southern, and good old-fashioned barbecue.

Student chefs work in the kitchen for Wednesday's BBQ Kelty's Kafe.
Student chefs work in the kitchen for Wednesday’s BBQ Kelty’s Kafé.

Being new to the culture of Ivy Tech, I was pleasantly surprised to find out about Kelty’s Kafé’s honorable beginnings: Students in the bakery merchandising class take over the café for the semester. Previously, students selected a different name for the deli each semester. It wasn’t until 2012 when Robert Kelty, a long-time fixture in hospitality administration and the College, passed away that “Kelty’s Kafé” made its permanent debut.

The program serves its students in the same way my internship serves me: It provides real-world experience that can’t be found in the classroom. Kelty’s Kafé is treated like any other restaurant.

“I want them to get a sense of what it is to completely run a business from creating the theme, developing the menus, coming up with recipes, and understanding the financial aspect of the business,” said Meshele Wyneken, hospitality administration instructor and Kelty’s Kafé supervisor. “How much did this cost? How much profit did it make? Because that is where most people fail when they open up a restaurant.”

I ordered an entrée special for $6.50, which included a pulled pork slider, ribs, and baked beans. Brittney Todd, a student chef working the counter, persuaded me to get the special, and I am glad I did. Both the rib and slider meat were cooked perfectly. In fact, I was a bit confused as to why the student chef even offered barbecue sauce because the meat was so tender, it almost fell off the bone. I got the sauce on the side but didn’t even use it—the ribs and slider were so good, they didn’t need the additional flavor to overpower the taste of the meat. Both the sliders and ribs melted in my mouth and were complimented by the hefty portion of baked beans.

My food from Kelty's Kafe
My food from Kelty’s Kafé

It was a shame I didn’t get to try everything on the menu: After being in the kitchen and watching everything come together, my mouth was still watering. After watching David Peverell, a student chef, batter the catfish and send it into the fryer, I wish I had ordered it. The fish sizzled and crackled, a golden brown heaven. Everywhere I looked, chefs were battering, cutting, or frying someone’s lunch. The cornbread mingled with the ribs and smelled like a Thanksgiving dinner, countless aromas of meats and breads filling the air.

Catfish for dessert, anyone?

Click below to listen to student chef Theresa Thurston discuss Kelty’s Kafé. Below the audio slideshow, find the Kelty’s schedule for the remainder of the semester.

Want to check out Kelty’s this semester? Here’s the schedule of menus:

Oct. 1:                                    A Day at the Fair
Oct. 8:                                    Pub Food
Oct. 15:                                  Italian
Oct. 22:                                  Southern Comfort
Oct. 29:                                  Halloween Week
Nov. 5:                                   Greek Feast
Nov. 12:                                 Surprise
Nov. 19:                                 Giving Thanks
Dec. 3:                                   British Isles

Wednesday’s student chef, Theresa Thurston, discusses why she choose a barbecue-themed menu and how her class helped put on the café. (Jackson’s audio)

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