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KNOXVILLE –- Hungry for chicken marsala? Dauphinoise potatoes? Buccatini alla Taormina?

Now, you don’t have to go to Italy or France.

In fact, you don’t even have to leave campus.

These dishes and others will be among those featured this semester at the “Ready for the World Café” now open in the Hermitage Room on the third floor of the University Center. The café is operated by students in the advanced food production and service management class.

Open to Tennessee students, faculty, staff and the general public, the café serves lunch from noon to 2 p.m. each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Diners pay $10 for the all-you-can-eat buffet or $8.50 for a plate of food to carry out.

The café was the brainchild of John Antun, assistant professor and director of the retail, hospitality and tourism management department. Antun, a certified executive chef with a doctorate in higher education administration, has spent more than 40 years in the hospitality industry and opened and operated four successful restaurants in the New York metropolitan area. He is currently the co-editor of the Journal of Culinary Science and Technology and editor of the Journal of Nutrition in Recipe and Menu Development.

“Students started planning the Ready for the World Café at the beginning of the semester. They created a complete marketing plan,” he said. Students were required to create budgets, devise marketing strategies and do their own advertising.

Each week, the students conduct research to create an international-style buffet, coming up with new recipes and converting existing recipes so they’ll serve about 100 people.

Students are encouraged to use their creativity make sure people come to the café.

ARAMARK, UT’s provider of dining services, provides the food and its employees do the cooking. Students provide the recipes and manage the employees.

Each student will have a chance to serve as general manager of the café.

“ARAMARK was anxiously looking to create opportunities for students,” Antun said. “Last year we had a class where the students researched the Hermitage Room. They came up with the idea to make it international.”

Students are graded on the number of customers that show up and the evaluations the customers fill out after they eat.

Antun said the café gives the students a chance to put their book learning into practice.

“They get to put into practice what they learned in four years. At first they learned in textbooks. Now they get to put it to use in pressure situations,” he said.

Antun said students chose the name “Ready for the World Café” because their project fits well into the university’s international and intercultural initiative, also called Ready for the World.

The goal of “Ready for the World: The International and Intercultural Awareness Initiative” is to transform the campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century. The initiative involves increasing the diversity among students, faculty and staff; infusing the curriculum with international and intercultural content; expanding study-abroad and work-study opportunities; and encouraging students to take advantage of all of these opportunities.

For more information about Ready for the World, see


John Antun, (865) 974-3732,
Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,
Bridget Hardy, (832) 545-6781,