Did you know that Lucy’s, UAA’s student-run restaurant, is one of Anchorage’s best fine dining restaurants?

March 22, 2022

Did you know that Lucy’s, UAA’s student-run restaurant, is one of Anchorage’s best fine dining restaurants?

“Alaska’s best kept secret,” is how diner David B. described Lucy’s in his Yelp review, where Lucy’s enjoys nearly a perfect 5-star rating. Other restaurant reviews are equally full of high praise for this campus-based dining establishment.

Lucy’s is the product of three lab classes offered through UAA’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration program operated both simultaneously and collaboratively to provide real-life, hands-on culinary experience. The result is a unique dining experience offering innovative dishes and fresh ingredients within a unique setting. Students also serve as the restaurant’s wait staff.

Located inside Lucy Cuddy Hall at UAA, Lucy’s opens March 24 and will serve lunch from 11:30-2:30. Reservations are required, and can be made on the OpenTable app, or by calling (907) 786-1122. 

Lunch service at Lucy’s is the culmination of weeks of preparation. Each semester starts with skill development in bakery, culinary arts and hospitality management. But in the week before Lucy’s opens, the students narrow their focus on menu design and restaurant operations. 

Chef Kellie Puff, a certified working pastry chef and assistant professor and department chair, said menus are “driven by the students’ inspiration, and things that they are seeing and are inspired by.”

During class, students present their ideas for desserts, salads, appetizers and entrees that they and their classmates will prepare each day in the working kitchen and bakery. The challenge is to whittle down all the innovative ideas. 

“We want things that are unique, that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Chef Noah Miller, who instructs the a’ la carte kitchen lab. “That’s what we strive for. We are looking for things that are elevated in fine dining. And we try to have a balance: a fish option, a vegan, a vegetarian.” 

In the end, three hors d’oeuvres, three salads, seven entrees, and six desserts are selected for the opening menu - dishes like the heirloom tomato caprese with arugula, burrata and basil oil; halibut pastelle with grated plantain and shrimp; and the caramel flan with smoky pepita and spicy churro. 

While the patrons enjoy their meals, the students are confronting real-life situations to prepare them for careers in tourism and hospitality. “I’ve never worked in a commercial kitchen before,” said one student. “I’m excited to learn how to run the line.” 

Briana Brown, a 2021 graduate of the program, has returned as a lab aide for the culinary class. For her, a culinary education is something she’s been focused on since high school graduation. After serving for a decade in the military, she returned to UAA to complete her degree and is thinking about a career as a health inspector. “I’m also interested in owning my own food truck,” she said. 

Student Chef Lisa Frank

uaa student chef