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KNOXVILLE — The Ready for the World Café opens its 10-week fall semester run the week of Sept. 14 with a menu dedicated to island cuisine around the world.

The Ready for the World Café will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Monday through Thursday in the Hermitage Room on the third floor of the University Center. Students enrolled in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (HRT) 445, the advanced food production and service management class, plan and operate the café. ARAMARK, UT’s provider of dining services, prepares the food.

Diners pay $11 for the all-you-can-eat buffet or $9 for a plate of food to carry out.

The first week’s menu includes strawberry and avocado salad; jerk chicken with orange citrus glaze; shrimp with coconut milk cream sauce; guava-glazed pork chops; Moroccan vegetable tagine; African-glazed poppy seed turnips; and sweet potato and plantain mash.

“We chose this menu because summer ends Monday, Sept. 21, and this is our way to say our goodbyes and to take our customers to a tropical paradise,” said student Whitney McCraney, who planned this week’s menu with fellow student Ahkeeia Payne.

McCraney, of Memphis, is a senior majoring in food science and technology. “Food is a big part of my Southern roots and I learned to cook at an early age. My mother’s side of the family is involved in the catering business and my father was a chef in the military, so the combination of the two equaled me, the ‘food-lovin-cookin-machine,'” she said. “My career aspiration is to one day open up my own restaurant and catering business.”

Payne, also of Memphis, is also a senior majoring in HRT management. She has worked for ARAMARK at UT, McEwen’s restaurant in Memphis and has worked as a personal chef and caterer. “I aspire to become an executive chef and own my own restaurant one day,” she said.

Donetta Poisson, instructor for the class that manages the café, said the café provides students with hands-on experience in running a restaurant while offering the campus community and public a unique lunch experience.

“The Ready for the World Café has enjoyed growing popularity,” she said. “We have an enthusiastic class of aspiring restaurateurs this semester. I’m confident they’ll come up with delicious menus and interesting themes that make the café the place to be for lunch on campus.”

Here’s a look at the 13 students, along with Payne and McCraney, who will be managing the café this semester:

  • Johnny Baek, of Memphis, is a senior in HRT management. He works at Nama Sushi Bar in Bearden. “I began my apprenticeship five years ago at my father’s teppanyaki and sushi restaurant and have been learning sushi while attending school since then. I one day hope to own my own Japanese restaurant serving traditional hot food as well as sushi.”
  • Valerie Brooks, of Memphis, is a senior in HRT management who has worked for ARAMARK at the Presidential Café. “I enjoy preparing and cooking food for my family and friends as a hobby, and aspire to be a chef or run my own food operation one day.”
  • Kelsey Chase, of Knoxville, is a graduating senior in business with a minor in HRT. She said she’s hoping to work in the hospitality industry after graduating.
  • Nathan Cordell, of Athens, is a senior in HRT management who has worked at Calhoun’s atop Bearden Hill and at Oodles Uncorked in Market Square. “I have always enjoyed working in restaurants and plan to continue doing so upon graduation,” he said.
  • Brian Drake, of Knoxville, is a senior in HRT management. He’s held various restaurant jobs since age 17 and hopes to one day own and operate his own restaurant.
  • Lindsey French, of Memphis, is a senior in nutrition. She’s worked at Trio on Market Square, Curves and currently is interning for Knoxville Parks and Recreation planning a children’s after-school nutrition program called Nutrition Exercise and Activity Training (NEAT). She plans to complete a dietetic internship after graduation, get her registered dietitian’s license and to one day work in a hospital like East Tennessee Children’s Hospital or St. Jude’s and be a dietitian for the children receiving treatments.
  • Tyler Hudson, of Nashville, is a junior in HRT management. He recently finished an internship with Macaroni Grill and has worked at Applebee’s and Pizza Hut. “Next summer, I am hopefully working with Marriot in Orlando, Fla., for an internship. After I graduate I would like to get hired by Marriot and eventually be the General Manager of a hotel down in the islands,” he said.
  • Andrew Kilgore, of Kingsport, is a senior in HRT management. He plans a career in the hotel and lodging industry. He’s worked at a variety of restaurants and is now a server at Bravo! in Knoxville. “Working in restaurants has given me a great opportunity to interact with guests and become familiar with customer service,” he said.
  • Brandi Moneymaker, of Knoxville, is a senior in HRT management. “When I graduate I would like to work for a tourism corporation or committee. I would also like to work in some kind of resort,” she said.
  • Aaron O’Connor, of Maryville, is a junior in HRT management. He said he hopes to open and run a successful restaurant in the near future.
  • Sean O’Neill, of Memphis, is a senior in HRT management. He has worked at Huey’s restaurant and in the food service department at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. He also has worked for the American Hospitality Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., and he now waits table at the Four Points by Sheraton in Knoxville. “After I complete my second internship with the Four Points I hope to continue working there and possibly pursue a career within Starwood Hotels and Resorts,” he said.
  • Heather Schillinger, of Franklin, is a senior in nutrition. “I hope to work in a nutrition-related setting like a school or hospital,” she said.
  • Wesley Walker is also participating in the class.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034,