KALISPELL - Flathead Valley Community College Culinary Program seniors have created a pop-up Italian restaurant to provide a unique dining experience for the valley.
Divina Trattoria has the option for takeout, or customers can dine in and watch their food be prepared with a full view of the kitchen.
Every year as a capstone project, students create a business from start to finish including the name, type of food, business plan, and marketing strategies.
“We really fell in love with Italian food and it's something that we all connected with because the Italian culture focuses so much on having the experience and having people truly enjoy food and that's what we're about. We love sharing that experience. We love watching people enjoy their food," said Divina Trattoria Marketing Manager and Pastry Chef Kyran Neer.
Take a video tour of the FVCC Culinary Kitchen:
The goal of the restaurant is to make the students apply all the lessons that they've learned, technically, from a culinary standpoint while also incorporating the business aspects.
“Obviously, we love food, but developing those minds and those talents is really, really fun and rewarding," said Culinary Institute of Montana Program Director Chef Manda Hudak.
The student will present the final numbers and findings to the local business community to see if the business would thrive in the real world. But while the restaurant is open, it’s all about the food for the chefs.
“Our biggest thing is I think sharing love through food and getting to spread that love throughout the valley," said Divina Trattoria Executive Sous Chef Avery George.
As part of their business plan, the students are using compostable and recycling packaging.
In an effort to help the FVCC Food Pantry they are implementing "Cookie for a Can" where diners who bring non-perishable food items will receive a free chocolate chip cookie.
“They are going to fail a little but those are the things they are going to learn. And I think those are the lessons that really stay with you. So, it is a really special opportunity that they get to take this from their values of vision and mission statement all the way through," said Chef Hudak.
Inspiration comes from different places for George and Neer, but their love of food and sharing that love with their customers is important to them both.
“Seeing all the guests that we bring in we have seen how much excitement the experience that they get seeing them smiling getting to see how food can simply just make someone happy, make a day and change someone's life honestly," said Neer.
Divina Trattoria will be open every Wednesday through Friday in April from 11 am to 1:30 p.m. in the FVCC Arts and Technology Building.
“Let them learn through your experience. And you know, as they said, Love through food. Enjoy. Bon appetite," said Chef Hudak.