Serving Food to 62 = A Dream Come True
When I toured Dominican, I immediately fell in love with the people, the architecture, the location and everything else there is to love about this place. But what really sold me were the kitchens.
I love cooking and hope to make a career out of it someday. When Judy Beto, then head of the nutrition department, gave us a tour of the beautiful Parmer kitchens, I imagined myself creating beautiful works of culinary art to impress my friends and family. I was thrilled that the nutrition program involves hands-on kitchen experience and, as a budding chef, I knew I would feel right at home.
I am now half way through my second year in the nutrition program and I love it. Nutrition students take three “kitchen” classes—Fundamentals of Foods, Quantity Foods and Experimental Foods. I took Fundamentals of Foods last year and we did a lot of sensory work, food tasting and basic food preparation. We made and sampled everything from lamb chops to peach fritters. At the end of the semester we took a field trip to the Institute of Food Technologists convention in Rosemont, where we sampled the newest and craziest food products on the market like pear and sea salt caramels and spearmint flavored potato chips.
Experimental Foods involves designing and creating a food product with a specific health emphasis, such as a high-fiber granola bar. Students work throughout the semester to fine-tune their product and then create a packaging and present it at the end-of-semester showcase. I am very excited to take this class next semester and develop a product of my own.
I am in Quantity Foods this semester, which continues the 50 year tradition of Dominican’s Recipe Box Café . Every week, the class prepares a gourmet, three course meal with a specific health emphasis. The meal is open to students, faculty, staff, friends, family and the local community. Usually between 40 and 60 patrons attend these delicious meals, many of them returning week after week.
Every week there are one or two managers who design, plan and oversee the meal. Last week my classmate Gabby and I managed the meal. We wanted to include a variety of fruits and vegetables and explained to the patrons how it important to “eat a rainbow”.
Our menu consisted of a beet and orange salad, baked fish on top of risotto with red pepper sauce, and berry panna cotta for dessert.
Serving 62 people three courses of food is not an easy feat but, with the help of our wonderful classmates, everything went very smoothly. It was a dream come true for me, who felt like a real chef for the night. I would do it again in a heartbeat.