Culinary teams nourish minds during cooking classes

Friday, Feb 1, 2019
by Amy G. Brown, Campus Dining

As a cold wind swirled around a nearly empty campus, three lucky groups of Princeton University students received some valuable life lessons in cooking this past week of Intersession. Campus Dining chefs and cooks shared their extensive knowledge of food and cooking techniques with students.

The classes reflect a tenet of the Campus Dining Vision to encourage all students to be their healthy best, on and off campus, while strengthening community engagement.

Forbes College

In a warm Forbes College kitchen, a group of students learned how to mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies by Cook Sundown Lightner. “Make sure you don’t open the oven door. The cookies won’t cook properly,” he cautioned the students.

Another group was taught how to sauté chicken and thicken sauce by Cook Abdel Moukkah, who advised, “Make sure you wait until the pan starts to smoke before putting the chicken in.”

The final group had a lesson in properly cutting carrots and potatoes by Cook John Studwell. One student asked, “Why are the carrots yellow?” Studwell replied, “Carrots come in many other colors other than orange, like yellow and purple. Even here at Princeton."

Cook show students how to cook chicken

Cook Abdel Moukkah demonstrates how to sauté chicken.

Rockefeller and Mathey Colleges

Over at Rockefeller-Mathey, Chef Michael Gattis and his team hosted almost 20 students. Gattis explained how avocado trees in Mexico sprout one after another so they can be enjoyed all year long.

Students were then broken up into three groups. One wrapped seasoned hamburger meat in corn husks, supervised by cooks Vidal De Leon and Henry Rojas for their recipe, los chuchitos, which are steamed corn parcels filled with meat, tomato and spices. Another group cut large quantities of avocados and strawberries for dessert. Under the watchful eye of Chef Luis Cordero, the last group used an iron cast press to make handmade tortillas, which they then fried one at a time before topping with meat, tomatoes, fresh avocados and parmesan cheese to create beautiful tostados.

In the end, the entire group’s culinary work paid off when they enjoyed a festive family-style lunch in the servery with the cooks and chefs.

Chefs and Cooks look on while student make tortillas

Chefs from Rockefeller-Mathey dining watch as student cook lunch.

Whitman College

Whitman College lent their hands to teaching 15 students the art of making handmade meatballs, learning how to chop onions without their eyes tearing up and the correct method to dredging chicken breasts in egg, flour and breadcrumbs to make chicken parmesan.

“Can this method be used for eggplant?” one student inquired.

Whitman Chef Jared Gierisch answered, “Yes, this is the best method to coat any protein or vegetable before frying.”

The students and staff at Whitman College made time to have a group photo in their hats, gloves and aprons to commemorate this occasion before digging into the delicious efforts of their lesson.

Student tilts her head back to taste spaghetti.

A student tests to see if the spaghetti is done.