They do a lot of talking about food - about how to cook and serve it - in the Hospitality Management program at the Montgomery College. But knowledge isn't very filling, so last week students turned theory to practice and did some cooking.

Students, faculty, family and friends strolled among more than 25 exhibits, most of them edible, at a "Kaleidoscope of Culinary Displays and Demonstrations" in the Campus Center building in Rockville.

Faculty member James Robb brought his food sanitation class to the event. Maryland's voluntary program of certification for food and beverage managers has brought a lot of professionals to Montgomery for formal instruction in food safety.

"They were impressed to see what the other students are doing," Robb said. "They thought they only sat in a classroom."

According to Tilbor de Gajary, a former executive at the Madison and other local hotels who teaches hotel and food management, the event was "great for those who participated. They'd proud. It's good for their morale."

De Gajary said the six-year-old program at Montgomery is doing well. Students find part-time work in their field and, according to a representative of the Marriott Corporation who attended the show, "the field is open" to graduates. "This industry is open to women, more than some others, "added de Gajary.

Women make up a sizeable percentage of the 400 students enrolled in the two-year program, as do foreigners and older persons planning a second career. Students range in age from 18 to 67. They study either Food and Beverage Management or Hotel-Motel Management.