Turning a cooking school and restaurant into an interactive and innovative space

You may be a student chef in a restaurant and want to view what’s going on at every table. You may be a cooking instructor and may want to see what all of your students are cooking in the different kitchen spaces. Well, Crestron has made this magic possible at Florida International University’s (FIU’s) Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory.

This lab is part of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and is used to teach food preparation and restaurant management to students. AV integrators set up an award winning video system to make this unique teaching and dining experience possible.

This restaurant lab has seating for 140 guests, a 38-foot cooking line — which is the largest in South Florida — a two-storey wine tower able to hold 1400 temperature-controlled bottles, a wine tasting room, and a bar.

How the lab is used

Chaplin faculty not only use the lab for lectures on restaurant management, but also for demonstrations of cooking and serving techniques. This lab’s most important function, however, is to give Chaplin students a hands-on experience of hospitality and restaurant management that they will need when they enter the job market.

The video system is designed to support the educational programme and to entertain patrons. It includes nine Panasonic pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras and ten Sharp and Samsung flat-panel displays, including a 90″ LCD monitor over the bar.

In addition, four touch screens double as monitors for instructors. This includes a 24″ touch screen, which provides a large work surface for annotating lectures and demonstrations.

There is also a video conferencing setup that is used to connect classes in Florida with an FIU hospitality school in Tianjin, China. Students in both Miami and Tianjin also have the opportunity to talk to experts in food, wine, and spirits around the world.

Dining area at the Chaplin School at Florida International University

There is a DVPHD video processor that allows quad-window displays on the various monitors. There are also dual Capture HD recording devices tied into a Blackboard and a video-on-demand server. There is also a DM32x32 switcher, which allows staff to send video and audio from any source to any combination of displays and other video devices.

Details and challenges of designing and installing the video system

AV integrators faced several challenges when designing and installing this unique video system. Because the kitchen is a harsh, noisy environment full of fumes and heat, the integrators used domed cameras to protect their mechanisms and lenses. They also programmed an audio processor to filter much of the noise picked up by microphones in the kitchen.

Two cameras were located over the main cooking line. One more camera covers a chef’s demonstration table in the restaurant, while another covers demonstrations in the wine room. Three more cameras are placed above the bar. These capture drink preparation, as well as 360-degree views of the restaurant.

Dale Gomez of FIU says that FIU has standardized on Crestron control systems and began using Crestron’s DigitalMedia platform when it was introduced, for all of their signal transport and switching systems. FIU students and faculty love the facility. The latter are constantly making upgrades, adding AirMedia and Capture HD devices in several Chaplin classrooms. This lets faculty experiment with flipped classroom teaching methods and active learning technology.

This hospitality school has installed the very latest in technology to enable students and faculty to make maximum use of the facility. Here’s to a great cooking and dining experience!

For more information on how you can use the latest AV products for your home or business, contact Actis at 022-30808080 or at contact@actis.co.in.

(Content and images courtesy: www.crestron.com and www.fiu.edu)

AV Solutions, Audio Visual Consultants at Actis Technologies India