Culinary school opens restaurant in Chattanooga

Culinary school opens restaurant in Chattanooga

November 2nd, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

Executive chef Mat Marcus cuts salmon at the Kitchen at Union Square.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

The Kitchen at Union Square opens Monday.

The Kitchen at Union Square opens Monday.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

A chicken sandwich takes three days to make at Kitchen at Union Square, a new downtown Chattanooga restaurant that opens Monday in the basement of the Krystal building.

First, the chicken is cured for 24 hours. Then, it's rinsed, patted dry and cooked in duck fat for eight hours. The chicken is allowed to cool in the duck fat to absorb the flavors, said executive chef Matt Marcus.

"We pull [the chicken], then we take tomatoes, a little bit of white wine, some onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves, a little thyme and we cook it all down. Once we get it to nappe, which is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, we puree it all, add the chicken and stew the chicken in this juice."

And that's lunch for $9.

Kitchen at Union Square will employ 40 people and is a venture by the Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College School of Business and Health, and is designed to give the school's culinary students a chance to get real-world experience in a fully functioning kitchen.

"It gives students the opportunity to visualize what they see in the classroom and how that will work in a real restaurant," said general manager Wendell Barnes.

Students will observe the kitchen at the start of their studies and will also have a chance to return for hands-on experience as 'externs' during their final semester in the program, Barnes said.

"The point is that they are under the watchful eye and direction of chefs," Barnes said.

The Culinard has several restaurants like the Kitchen at Union Square throughout the Southeast, and the school eventually hopes to open a restaurant at every Culinard location, Barnes said. The Chattanooga restaurant seats 92 people and offers a private dining room that can hold about 60 diners.

Kitchen at Union Square will focus on lunch and dinner, with menu items ranging between $6 and $22. Marcus hopes to attract professionals who work downtown and said lunch diners can be in and out in as little as a half-hour.

Marcus will keep his kitchen focused on technique, he said. Everything the restaurant serves will be made in house, even down to the mayonnaise.

"We're not bringing stuff in that's made and putting it on a flat top," he said. "We take this potato and turn it into something."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or