Bistro 31 Features Food from Punjab

During a spring quarter special event, the students of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California, a college of Argosy University, Los Angeles, featured a five-course gourmet Pakistani/Indian feast in the student-run restaurant Bistro 31.

Under the guidance of the school’s Chef Instructor Jeff Haines and Guest Chef Farhana Sahibzada, the students demonstrated their understanding of Pakistani/Indian cuisine. They prepared the food for the devoted café followers who packed the dining room for the three-day event.

“It is a win, win situation for everyone,” said Chef Haines. “The students and guests both benefit from the event. The students learned a lot about Pakistani/Indian cuisines from Chef Sahibzada and the bistro guests gave two thumbs up.”

The recipes for the special prix-fixe menu came from Chef Sahibzada’s soon to be released book, Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian (Pakistani) Cooking. Sahibzada, a regular visiting instructor at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles, frequently teaches Pakistani/Indian cooking to the students in the culinary program.

“I like to help the students understand the shared history between India and Pakistan and the resulting connection between the two countries’ cuisines,” said Sahibzada. She also teaches the students how to build healthier versions of popular restaurant recipes, replacing yogurt for cream and using the healthiest blends of oil in carefully measured amounts. “I always start out by using the freshest of ingredients and incorporating fresh herbs to flavor the cooking oil,” she added.

Originally from Lahore, Pakistan, Sahibzada specializes in the Northern Pakistani/Indian (Punjabi) cuisine. She is the ex-Chef and Owner of cinnamon STIX café, an eatery and catering business that she ran in the 90s in Woodland Hills, Calif. She has been teaching Pakistani/Indian cooking for over 20 years in Southern California. In addition to teaching classes at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles, she has taught classes for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Whole Foods Markets, Gelson’s, Williams Sonoma, Let’s Get Cookin’ and many other professional establishments.

In preparation for the special week at the bistro, the students in Chef Haines’ class started in the kitchen early in the morning to prepare the food. The class then divided into three groups: one group working behind the scenes managing the kitchen and filling the orders; the second group taking the orders and serving the meals; and the third group greeting the guests and operating the cash register. They worked in rotation throughout the week of the event to gain various real-world, hands-on experiences.

The result: food rich in taste and bursting with flavor with an artistic and appetizing presentation.

Bistro 31 is located in the heart of the city of Santa Monica at 2900 31st Street. It is open to the public and presents high-quality dishes at affordable prices. The Zagat-rated eatery offers a contemporary approach to international cuisine and flavors. The restaurant also provides students with an opportunity to practice the theory and culinary artistry the students have learned and honed in culinary program. To learn more, visit Bistro 31 on the Web: .


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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