Student chefs stepping out with Stepping Stone

Megan Walchuk

Set among the pines, boasting soaring ceilings and sleek decor, is Fort Frances’ newest dining hot spot.

But don’t put off getting a reservation, because this exclusive pop-up dining experience won’t be around for long – the chefs need to get back to class.

The Stepping Stone is a teaching restaurant, being opened for a brief time at Seven Generation’s Educational Institute, at the newly constructed Fort Frances campus.

The staff of budding chefs and servers is comprised entirely of SGEI’s first year Culinary Management and Hospitality students.

“The students have been working hard to provide the public with an experience that mirrors one they would have at an up-scale restaurant,” says Hospitality Instructor, Jessica McComb. “They’ve looked at every aspect of the industry–concept, business plan, menu planning, restaurant layout, food preparations and guest relations–and have formed a well-rounded understanding of what a successful operation looks like.”

The students treated SGEI faculty to a practice lunch last Friday, as a test run for tomorrow’s grand opening. Although there were some nervous young faces in the Culinary Lab, patrons in the dining hall were thoroughly enjoying homemade portobello mushroom soup, poached salmon and blueberry bread pudding.

“This unique restaurant project is an opportunity for students to proudly showcase their skills,” says Post-Secondary Coordinator Don

Eldridge. “It’s an excellent way for them to gain confidence and realistic restaurant experience before venturing out into the workforce.”

The restaurant is a short term pop-up, open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 27-28, March 4-5, March 12-13, March 26-27, April 2-3 and April 9-10. Guests can make reservations by calling (807) 274-2796. At the end of the meal, diners can provide feedback on their experience and service, to help the students advance their studies. For more information visit the events calendar at