Culinary students tour ‘tiny’ restaurant kitchens in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — By industry standards, the commercial kitchen space used by the culinary arts students at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School is quite generous in size, providing ample room to safely move about without bumping into classmates or being in someone’s way. However, lead culinary arts instructor and experienced chef Henry Bousquet says once students enter the workforce and take a look around their new environment for the first time, they may be in for a surprise. 

“It’ll be a rare occasion that you work at a hotel or something with a kitchen similar to the one at the school,” Bousquet said. “For the most part, you’ll be in small, cramped spaces with all kinds of challenges with equipment and personnel.”

That’s why GNB Voc-Tech’s culinary sophomores went on a “Tiny Kitchen Tour” recently around downtown New Bedford, visiting Tia Maria’s European Café, Destination Soups, and The Baker.

It was the return of an idea first launched in 2019 but discontinued the following two years due to COVID-19.

Jessica Arruda, owner of Tia Maria's European Café in downtown New Bedford, shows Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School culinary arts students around the restaurant's kitchen during their "tiny kitchen tour."

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“They’re all over this city, they’re all over New England, because most of these buildings are old and weren’t designed to be restaurants,” Bousquet said of smaller-scale kitchens like the ones visited on the tour. “A lot of these buildings were doing other jobs like making barrels, candles, rope and things like that.”

The owners of the three businesses toured by students are the members of the GNB Voc-Tech culinary arts shop’s advisory board. By state law, all vocational schools in Massachusetts are required to have such boards associated with each shop program to provide guidance and oversight from industry professionals.

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