When it comes to trailblazing women in Frederick, Elizabeth DeRose is an obvious choice. Over the last few years, Elizabeth has been the brains behind 200 Monroe Restaurant, Frederick Community College's unique training program that invites the public in to sample their work. Elizabeth has grown and developed a strong reputation for the program, making it a recognizable name around the table.
1. In your own words, what is 200 Monroe Restaurant?
First and foremost, 200 Monroe Restaurant is a learning lab classroom for students in the Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism Institute (HCTI) program of Frederick Community College, where our dining guests get to be a part of a unique class.
This semester-long course is the final step in the program where our students get to put all their skills and knowledge to the test in an open-kitchen restaurant setting. Under guidance of instructors, the live dining experience is open to the public upon reservation and each diner is encouraged to evaluate the food and service all provided by students with comment cards they are given upon being seated.
Our students prepare a 3-course dinner menu offering a choice for first, second and third courses. 200 Monroe will re-open for the Spring semester in late February 2020.
2. How did this capstone learning experience begin? What inspired its creation?
This real-life dining setting has been a part of the curriculum since 2011 and is a common component of a 4-year culinary arts or hospitality school. We are proud to be able to provide this exciting opportunity as part of our Certificate and Associates Degree programs, and we are one of only a few community colleges in the state that operates a public full-service restaurant as part of its program.
A few years ago, we started participating in Frederick’s Restaurant Week to get the word out and the gracious people of this amazing town have really rallied around us. We typically sell out most evenings during the semester and the students love interacting with guests that live in their own backyard. It’s a win/win experience for all involved. Inviting the public into an applied learning experience like this has provided great visibility for the program and allowed the community to participate in workforce training in a very unique way.
3. What is your one piece of advice for women entrepreneurs working in the hospitality/culinary/tourism industry in the Frederick area?
The hospitality industry is all about relationships and tapping into what brings people joy. Any entrepreneur, in the hospitality business especially, needs to constantly develop new relationships and nurture existing ones. The most important thing is to be able to genuinely enjoy providing a special and memorable experience for someone else, whether that’s through the food you prepare, the service you provide, or taking a genuine interest in whatever someone chooses to share with you. Women and men alike in this business have a nurturing ability that allows us to authentically provide these services. It is certainly a trait that sets us up for success. I often tell my students that the demand is so much greater than the supply in this industry, and if you are passionate and hardworking you really are in the driver seat when it comes to landing a fantastic job.
When I first graduated from college, I was working in a completely different career in finance and lived in downtown Chicago. I found myself spending all of my free time going out to eat and immersing myself in the culinary world outside of office hours. At one point, I decided to quit my job to go after my true passion at the age of 30 and researched the best culinary schools. I went on to get a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. (The “other” CIA!)
I’ll never forget my first experience interviewing for job in this business. My first employer asked, “Why should I hired you? You have no other experience in this industry.” My answer to him was, I might not have the technical skills, but I can learn those quickly. What I bring to the table are the things you can’t teach - passion, maturity, drive, a great work ethic and the ability to empathize and relate to anyone at their level. I was hired on the spot.
4. The industry was once very male dominated, how has it changed overtime?
While the industry is certainly changing, there are some aspects that have remained the same. We have seen more women pursue careers on the hospitality side of the business rather than on the culinary one for many different reasons.
The fact of the matter is that the culinary world has traditionally celebrated men – just like in many other professions – women have had to work a bit harder to prove themselves. Of course, women deserve respect in any environment and it has been encouraging to see the tides rapidly changing. There are so many more talented female chefs and restaurateurs today than there were even as recently as 10 years ago, which is very exciting to see. We’ve proven that we are just as talented and knowledgeable, can work just as hard and long, have exacting standards, and still maintain a sense of humor through it all!
I have been lucky enough to work in supportive companies and organizations, in both my finance and culinary careers, and my advice to students, and to anyone for that matter, is to always look for job opportunities where high quality standards for customers and employees are a priority. There are so many well-managed, highly experienced and successful businesses out there that are diversified and inclusive – do your research and find them! Work for an employer that is the best in their field at what they do, there’s no reason not to!
5. What is one place you would recommend to a new visitor of Frederick?
I have lived in the New Market area for about 20 years now and have witnessed Frederick flourish into a vibrant town, especially in hospitality. For those visiting here, I recommend checking out Heritage Frederick to learn more about the rich history of our town and those that work and live here.
I also love strolling down Carroll Creek when it’s in full bloom and of course, in the winter when the boats are “Sailing through the Winter Solstice”. There are too many excellent dining choices in Frederick to single out any one, but rest assured no matter what you’re in the mood for – a wood-fired burger, juicy steak, Thai, pizza, tapas, cocktails, local craft beer, spirits or wine - you’ll find great options in Frederick!
6. What's next for 200 Monroe Restaurant?
Every decision we make is through the lens of education. We are constantly improving the program based on how it fulfills the student experience. We have begun to integrate more of the local culinary community into the program by having our students work side by side with renowned chefs in the area. Local chefs share their talents and knowledge with our students by teaching in our program. They love being able to share their experience with students and help bring out their skills as a way to embrace this next generation of talented professionals.
While we are known for our culinary education, there is definitely a high demand for hospitality professionals as well. I like to remind the community that if you’re interested in the business side of the industry, we have so many programs at Frederick Community College to enhance those skills, which is an educational foundation that spring boards to so many opportunities.
To learn more about the Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism Institute (HCTI) at Frederick Community College or to reserve a reservation at 200 Monroe, visit the website for more details.