Senior Ethan Breijak serves up an order of bistro chicken with pasta primavera Nov. 1 at South Lake Bistro.

Senior Ethan Breijak serves up an order of bistro chicken with pasta primavera Nov. 1 at South Lake Bistro.

Photos by Kristyne E. Demske


Student-run bistro reopens bigger and better in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 2, 2018

  The Cavalier Dream dessert includes chocolate cake sandwiched with raspberry buttercream, topped with chocolate sauce and a raspberry swirl.

The Cavalier Dream dessert includes chocolate cake sandwiched with raspberry buttercream, topped with chocolate sauce and a raspberry swirl.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

 Hannah Lias, a senior, whips up a strawberry spinach salad.

Hannah Lias, a senior, whips up a strawberry spinach salad.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — "Changing the world with a spoon.”

That’s what chef Darrel Shepherd, certified hospitality educator at South Lake High School, said is the new motto of South Lake Bistro, the student-run restaurant that has reopened after more than a year’s closure in a different location at the school with its own entrance, more space and customized workspace.

Visitors said they are amazed by the food that comes out of the kitchen, prepared and cooked by students who are certified in ServSafe methods before the state-licensed restaurant opens for the year.

Kristen Taber, of St. Clair Shores, was eating at the bistro Nov. 1, just a week after it reopened to the public, with friends and family. Her son is a student in the culinary arts program, and she said she was “pleasantly surprised” by what was coming out of the kitchen.

“All the food is really good and you can tell everyone is working hard,” she said. “You can tell it’s a great experience.”

That day was also the first time at the bistro for Helen Roberts, of St. Clair Shores, who was dining with friends.

“It’s marvelous,” she said. “The food was delicious.”

With recent offerings on tap including the Cavalier Wrap — a combination of lettuce, ranch dressing, ham, pickles and American cheese, wrapped and grilled — bistro chicken with pasta primavera, and strawberry spinach salad — complete with bacon, red onions and an aioli-based dressing — visitors can be forgiven for thinking that their chef has years of experience.

Shepherd said this is the best group of students he’s ever had, filled with rising stars who help their fellow students succeed.

The bistro is open 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, whenever school is open. Its first day for the semester was Oct. 24, and Shepherd said that the lunch crowd has been nearly doubling every day since they opened.

The new dining space can easily seat 60 people, whereas the former dining area only had room for 35 or 40 diners.

“It is an amazing space. The technology is still new to us,” he said. “Our kitchen is huge.”

There are 94 students across three classes this semester, and Shepherd said the space will allow him to accommodate about 34 students per class.

In addition to cooking and serving skills, Shepherd said that his students learn a level of professional skills that will serve them in any career.

“Our students get the professionalism of working with the public,” he said. “They’re confident and able to talk to an adult as an adult.”

Students in the culinary arts program also offer on-site and off-site catering when the bistro is not open, serving senior programs in Madison Heights and career day at Jefferson Middle School — each with hundreds to feed — in the past.

South Lake Bistro will hold its invitation-only grand opening Nov. 9, and Shepherd said that students have been ramping up their skills in anticipation of that event.

The long wait for the new space was worth it, he said.

Cheryll Ropke, of Grosse Pointe Farms, said she was happy to be able to support the students while dining.

“It’s really fun and their chicken noodle soup is amazing,” she said. “There are a lot of talented students.”

To learn more, visit South Lake Bistro on Facebook. More information and ordering is also available at southlakebistro.weebly.com, by emailing slbistro@solake.org or by calling (586) 435-1439.

South Lake Bistro is located at South Lake High School, 21900 E. Nine Mile Road, with the entrance and its own parking lot off Cavalier Drive.