The Sun Times was invited to a special event in the Hospitality Room at The Lassiter Center, part of the ASU-Beebe-Heber Springs campus. In actuality it was Culinary student Katerina O’Neill’s final exam. As one would suspect the final exam included the preparation and serving of a meal.

With the assistance of Madelynn Moore, Shane Brown, Skye Miller and Lillian Cordero, O’Neill prepared and served an exquisite meal to several members of the faculty, administration, family and this editor. Because O’Neill had visited France during her Senior year she chose to serve a meal of French Cuisine.

The tables were set with cloth napkins, candlelight and fresh flowers. Each place had a copy of the menu for the night. The menu: A Tarte Flambee Appetizer; The Entree was Coq au Riesling, Lemon Parsley Risotto and Sauteed Asparagus and Tomatoes, the final piece resistance was a Fresh Fruit Tarte for Dessert.

The Tarte Flambee Appetizer was light, it looked like a very thin pizza crust topped with bacon, mushrooms and sweet onions with gruyere cheese. It was delicious, light enough to not spoil your appetite for the entree.

The Coq au Riesling (named so because of the variety of wine used in the cooking) was chicken that was moist and juicy covered in a mushroom and pearl onion sauce and filled with flavor. The Lemon Parsley Risotto was rice with the most awesome flavor thanks to the fresh lemon zest and parsley. The Sauteed Asparagus and Tomatoes were crisp and thin stalks of asparagus and again the flavor was delicious.

The piece de resistance was the Fresh Fruit Tarte that had kiwi and strawberries sliced onto a custard that seemed to have a consistency of pudding with a taste of banana on what appeared to be a homemade pie crust. It was light and oh so flavorful. I could’ve ate at least three more pieces of it. Yummy!!

O’Neill deserves an A+ for the exceptional choices in her menu, each dish complimented the other so well.

O’Neill currently works at Arrows Restaurant in Heber Springs and they are lucky to have her! I hope they realize what a great Chef they have in her!

The Culinary program is a part of the Hospitality program at ASU-Beebe-Heber Springs. If you are interested in finding out more, contact Rusty Miller at 501-362-1221.