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October 28, 1994|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Have you ever wanted to give your compliments to the chef, but didn't know where to find him in the restaurant? Now, a Burbank restaurant offers an opportunity not only to praise the cook, but also to ask questions.

The Classroom Restaurant at the Equestrian Center is offering a Chef's Table at lunch, dinner or both on Wednesdays. It features a multi-course meal with wines for $17.50 at lunch or $27.50 for dinner, including gratuities.

Patrons are served by the students and staff of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and are able to view the preparation of their meal through a glass window to the kitchen.

But more important, Chef Raimund Hofmeister, president and executive chef of the institute, offers comments and answers questions during the preparation and service of the meal. And afterward, patrons can mingle with the students and staff and can sometimes tour the kitchen.

Hofmeister says this dining experience is an educational workshop for his students.

"It gives the students a real-life situation where they have to prepare a meal and be confronted by the customers," he says. "And the people who come here really love it.

"I usually give a critique of the students' work," Hofmeister added. "And sometimes I get booed by the customers for being too harsh."

The Classroom Restaurant, 480 Riverside Drive, in the Equestrian Center, Burbank. Reservations required for the Chef's Table ; call (818) 840-1320.

MORE MEATLESS

Chin Chin, the chain of Chinese dim sum restaurants, has added a Vegetarian Delights section to its menu in response to customer requests for more vegetarian dishes.

Included are assorted sauteed vegetables in a choice of flavors: garlic, Kung Pao, sweet and sour, orange, curry or black bean, for $6.95 each. Also available: string beans stir-fried with bits of pickled cabbage, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce or baby bok choy in a light garlic sauce, for $5.50 each. Spicy eggplant with purple onions, scallions and garlic is another new dish, for $6.25.

Asparagus soup is available for $5.25, and there is a marinated cucumber salad, made with cucumber slices tossed with red cabbage and purple onions marinated in a garlic vinaigrette and topped with toasted sesame seeds. Chin Chin also offers tofu as a meat substitute in entrees.

In the San Fernando Valley, Chin Chin is at 16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino (818) 783-1717, and 12215 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (818) 985-9090.

THE WHOLE TORTILLA

Chevys Mexican Restaurants are offering whole-wheat tortillas in addition to their white flour kind as part of an effort to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Other recently added menu items include a variety of fish and vegetable fajitas and low-salt side dishes such as grilled vegetables and vegetarian black beans.

Chevys customers can watch as the tortillas come hot off El Machino, a specially designed tortilla-making machine that shapes, flips and bakes them in minutes in view of patrons.

Chevys is at 16705 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 385-1905, and in Media City Center, 701 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, (818) 846-6999.

MORE PASTA

Louise's Trattoria, the California-style Italian restaurant chain, plans to open its first restaurant in the Santa Clarita area in August, says spokeswoman Diana Foutz. The restaurant will be in a commercial development called Creekside Place on Valencia Boulevard near Magic Mountain Parkway.

There are now 12 Louise's Trattorias in Southern California , including locations at 12050 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, (818) 762-2662, and 130 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale, (818) 241-8860.

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