By William Lusky
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – The Blackwood Bistro, which bills itself as a gourmet restaurant on the Blackwood campus of Camden County College, will conclude its first semester of operation in June. Halpern Hall hosts the grand opening of the restaurant April 10.
The Blackwood Bistro takes place in classrooms like any other, which “at night, transforms into a beautiful place,” remarks a woman opening the event for Terri Campagna. Campagna is the supervisor/manager for this and 14 other programs for the Technical Institute of Camden County. The Blackwood Bistro is the only one of those programs located on the Blackwood campus.
The six students working the event are led by Chefs Lou Caruso and Bill Washart. Caruso and Washart are graduates of the Acadamy of Culinary Arts and together have five-plus decades of experience in the industry. “We were at the technical school for 25 years. We just came over here and gave it a new name,” states Caruso at the start of evening dining. With but a handful of students and a few to help and coordinate, student chef Andrew Douglas relays that together they are “like a family.”
One by one Caruso reveals five main courses consisting of stuffed mushroom, beef tenderloin, veal italiano, pasta primavera and baked salmon. Nine round, cloth-draped tables scatter the room attracting small groups ready for their experience. Most of the room is dark, but lit with a video of a fireplace projected on screens at both ends. The mood is complete with a live pianist, Bryan Marquez, as he executes notes on a keyboard with musical bliss. Marquez is a Camden County College student who is career-bound not just for music, but mathematics and language as well.
The Blackwood Bistro gourmet restaurant takes advantage of Halpern Hall’s new kitchen. The restaurant is open every Thursday at 7 p.m. until the June 5. To make a reservation, leave a voicemail message at (856) 374-4910.