When recent graduates hit the proverbial pavement this summer, many of them will run into this age-old dilemma: They can’t get a job without experience, and they can’t get experience without a job.

One neighborhood school tries to help its students around that problem. At the Art Institute of Dallas’ culinary school, students work at the Chef’s Gallery, a teaching restaurant, as part of the curriculum.

Vicki Ardaya helps teach the class and oversees its operations.

“The students run the restaurant,” she says. “They work with the chef in the kitchen, and I work with them on food costs, budgeting and serving the customers.”

Ardaya says her job is to teach the students all about good service.

“I always try to show them how important the service and the front of the house is,” she says. “Even if you plan to be a chef, if you want to open your own business, you have to give your customers good service out front.”

But she also teaches them fun stuff, such as preparing flaming dishes for diners.

“We do different styles of service to try to give them the option of how to serve in fine dining restaurants. We’ll do crepe suzettes or steak Diane near the table, so they can see the famous flame. That’s the best part.”

Hopefully, there aren’t many mistakes made when working with fire. But Ardaya says mistakes are just part of the training.

“I tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid of mistakes. It’s how you learn,’” she says. “If you make a mistake, listen to the customer, apologize and then satisfy them. And always thank them for being your guest.”

So while it’s not the best place for diners with anger management issues, those who can handle drinking a Cabernet from a white wine glass receive a decent reward for their patience.

“Diners can expect a very high standard of food as far as quality and freshness is concerned, and very good prices,” says Chef Mathieu Weiss, who oversees the kitchen and hails from 5-star restaurants such as the French Room.

“Nothing on our menu is above $13.95, and most are less than that. We can price them so low because we don’t have labor costs to work with.”

AID’s Chef’s Gallery is located at 8080 Park Lane. Call 469-587-1276 for reservations and directions. Open for lunch, Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and dinner, Tue-Fri 6-7:30 p.m.