Princeton teaching kitchens warm up a brisk Wintersession

Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018
by Amy G. Brown

As the temperatures dropped outside, Princeton students and staff turned up the heat inside. And it was not just the thermostats. Across campus, Campus Dining chefs and cooks led four sessions for 100 participants on culinary approach and technique.

“Engaging our community in this way is a key part of our vision to support our students, faculty, and staff to be their healthy best,” says Smitha Haneef, assistant vice president, University Services. “Food brings everyone together and we all walk away having learned something new.”

At Whitman College, Senior Operations Manager Greg Billows, Chef de Cuisine Jared Gierisch and cooks Fredy DeLeon, Rudy Natareno-Urizar, Ervin Soto, Dennis Stewart and Alex Lopez offered three different lessons to three groups of students. One group learned how to prepare fresh Italian sausage—from the casing to the cooking. Another rolled fresh gnocchi. The third group created chicken parmesan. Students then joined staff for a family-style meal to show off their efforts.

“It was a wonderful experience for staff and students,” says Kristin Frasier, Whitman College program administrator. “We love creating an environment where learning like this can happen.”

At Forbes College, Chef de Cuisine Alex Trimble and cooks Abdel Moukkad, Sundown Lightner, John Studwell and Mike Valencia worked with three groups of students to create garlic knots, pizza, and penne with broccoli rabe. Chef Trimble ended the lesson with a demonstration on making bread pudding, including how to crack two eggs at once without leaving any shell in the creamy mixture.

Forbes Teaching Kitchen

Forbes Cook Abdel Moukkad works with a student to prepare a vegan dish with tofu, penne, and broccoli.

Up the hill inside the Rockefeller and Mathey servery, Executive Chef Rick Piancone and Chef de Cuisine Michael Gattis shared secrets on transforming cauliflower into pizza crust and fried “cauli-rice.” Students learned the versatility of cauliflower and tried their hands at cooking the crust before sitting down to eat their delicious creations. 

Students were not the only ones having fun. Inside Café Vivian, Piancone, Gattis, and Senior Operations Manager Matthew Smith led a team-building program for a dozen staff members in the Academic Manager’s Group (AMG). This was the second session between the AMG and Campus Dining. Together, the teams prepared fresh ginger ale, a kale and cabbage salad, vegetable stromboli, seared chicken with white wine and herbs, and a ricotta dessert.

“It was an amazing opportunity to work with colleagues in a different setting,” says Kathleen Applegate, department manager, Mathematics. “With limited time and a specific task, you learn to communicate and work together effectively. It was great to work with these incredibly talented chefs and get to know colleagues better. Everyone who attended thought it was an extremely worthwhile event.”

Campus Dining is part of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which seeks to advance personal and public health through culinary literacy and integrative lifestyle transformation.

Visit the gallery for more pictures.