Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cooking with a Chef

One of my favorite experiences in the internship so far had me step outside my nutrition comfort zone and enter the culinary world. During the Campus Dining rotation at College Park, my partner Emily and I were responsible for making a farewell lunch on our last day as a way to say thank you to everyone who helped us along the way. Doesn't sound like anything special? Well just you wait! We were able to cook in College Park’s new dining facility on campus, 251 North, which is more like a hip upscale restaurant than a dining hall. We also got to work closely with the head chef of dining services.

Chef John helped us develop a menu (Emily and I still need to work on our culinary creativity) and scale it to the 20 people we were expecting. At first, I was a little nervous to work in the kitchen with a chef. I didn't know if my skills would measure up- very basic skills I should add. It ended up being a truly educational, rewarding, and enjoyable experience; more like a private cooking lesson than work! The chef taught us how to roast peppers, knead pizza dough, and make our own vinaigrette. We learned the proper way to cut various vegetables, a homemade tomato sauce recipe, and how to do a chiffonade. Overall the five hours we spent in the kitchen flew by, and our end result was a delicious meal that everyone enjoyed. The best part of the day? Eating our creation!

Hard at work in the kitchen! Using a chiffonade technique on basil.

Pasta with grilled chicken and homemade tomato sauce with grilled zucchini, squash and roasted peppers. Grilled onions, asparagus, and shitake mushrooms marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette.