Denison Students Study Cooking Over Summer

Groups of two or three students partner up to cover different prep stations

Most students dread summer school. But it turns out there’s one subject that Denison University students don’t mind studying then — cooking!

Supervisor Joe Bodine explains the recipe and nutritional value of the student-prepared dishes

Through a partnership between Student Development and Bon Appétit, 18 or so students participated in each of three classes called Teaching Kitchen held over the summer session at the Granville, OH, campus. Vice President for Student Development Laurel Kennedy had seen dedicated teaching kitchens elsewhere and wanted to make food literacy education part of Denison’s wellness approach. The summer classes were test cases, and they more than proved her instinct that students would love the approach.

Topics ranged from healthy versions of Indian cooking, cooking techniques, plant-protein nutrition facts, and ancient grains, to “Roast Chicken and Other Stories.” For the last one, Executive Chef Jonathan O’Carroll demonstrated how to stuff, season, and truss a chicken for roasting; then the students followed suit. Next, he explained all the things they could cook with the leftovers from a whole chicken — chicken salad, stock, and chicken noodle and other easy soups — and offered samples of chicken stock, chicken noodle soup, and chicken salad. He also demonstrated how to break down the whole chicken, and explained the different cuts as the students carved up their own birds. Each class included handouts with recipes, techniques, and nutrition facts.

The Teaching Kitchen classes were set up in Curtis Dining Hall with tables for two or three students each, plus the tools they needed for grinding, chopping, and stirring; induction burners; and ingredients for the recipes. General Manager Paul Mixa bought a few extra burners, but the rest was equipment they had on hand.

Executive Chef Jonathan O’Carroll walks students through preparing a whole chicken

Julie Tucker, assistant vice president for student development, worked with the Bon Appétit team to spread the word about the program and collect feedback from the first classes. Denison University continually works to expand their programmatic offerings, and the Teaching Kitchen is a key part of their wellness focus for students.

“I learned great new recipes and met other Denison students who were just as excited as I was to do some culinary experimenting,” Naamah Leerdam ’19 told Alexis Boyages ’19 in an article for the university website. “And I developed better cooking practices, such as the proper way to handle various knives and understanding the temperatures that are recommended for preparing and
serving foods.”

Thanks to the great student feedback and the strong support from Denison’s student development team, Paul and the culinary team are excited to host several more Teaching Kitchen installments this fall.

Submitted by Paul Mixa, General Manager