As culinary instructor of the Culinary Arts department at Hennepin Technical College, chef Denis Durnev insists that when students reach the third semester of his program that they not only pass tests in cooking and baking, but successfully produce and manage a five-course or buffet meal with original recipes served to friends, family and diners from the Twin Cities community. Here is a short video of a recent meal.

Chef de cuisine is the traditional French term, meaning "chief of the kitchen" or "kitchen manager", from which the English word chef is derived. The Chef De Cuisine project is a graded part of each student’s education, but it’s not as simple as checking boxes and making pretty food. “We want to expose our students to a different style of service than they’ve become accustomed to in the classroom because we want to prepare them for careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry,” Durnev says.

Students begin planning for this final project at the beginning of the semester.

“They have to learn how to effectively manage the other students in their class to help them in the preparation, execution and service of this meal”, Durnev explains. “At the end of the service and after the public has gone home, we ask all the students for feedback to help the spotlighted student with what they can learn from failures and successes achieved during their meal.”

This process allows students to learn even when it’s not their project meal. Grades are assigned only at the end of the semester, after planning, service and team skills in the kitchen are fully experienced as they rotate through positions each week.

Gaining front- and back-of-house experience while managing a student staff ranging from 5-25 students is important, but it’s often the satisfied smiles of a full dining room of customers that help elevate culinary training into a fulfilling career path. 

$20 tickets cover food costs and are available up to two days before the Chef De Cuisine meal events held on Thursdays at 11 For more information or to purchase a ticket, contact chef Durnev at

Camron Gaillard recently served a Japanese inspired 5-course menu:

Crab cake Hennepin Technical College

Appetizer - Japanese Style Crab Cakes (carrot, snap pea, avocado wasabi puree)

Orange Salad Hennepin Technical College

Salad - Sesame Vinaigrette Grain Salad (red bell pepper, carrot, pickled red onion and mandarin oranges)

Miso Soup Hennepin Technical College

Soup - Miso Soup (tofu, green onion, nori seaweed)

Hennepin Technical College steak rice bowl

Entrée - Grilled Steak Rice Bowl (spinach, pickled carrot and radish, marinated mushroom and spicy cucumber)

Rasberry dessert Hennepin Technical College

Dessert - Sakura Panna Cotta (coconut sweet cream with raspberry cherry blossom jelly)