Hillsdale students learning to cut onions efficiently

Hillsdale Offers Cooking Classes with a Twist

Hillsdale Catering Manager Rhula Mitcheltree

Hillsdale Catering Manager Rhula Mitcheltree teaching the cooking class with a Levantine-inspired menu

For National Nutrition Month, the Bon Appétit team at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI, got busy crafting a unique cooking class experience.

Catering Manager Rhula Mitcheltree led a cooking class featuring cuisine she ate (and made) growing up in Palestine (she also lived in the Canary Islands and Nigeria), with a healthy twist.

The Levantine-inspired menu consisted of tahini beet dip, turkey kofta, fattoush salad with sumac, whole-wheat pitas, and a hearty and flavorful freekeh, which is low in carbohydrates and four times higher in fiber than brown rice. (Freekeh also has more vitamins and minerals than your average grain and acts as a prebiotic. Students were amazed at the health benefits of this uncommon whole grain, even inquiring as to where they could purchase it!) Rhula also introduced them to a unique dessert, similar to a panna cotta, which was infused with orange blossom water and topped with a lemon-honey simple syrup and toasted pistachios.

Wearing Bon Appétit ballcaps borrowed from the uniform supply, the students learned how to make everything, through a combination of demonstrations and hands-on mixing, rolling, and shaping. When everything was ready, they brought all of the food out to a preset table, eating family style while Rhula answered questions about her career, her favorite dishes, and how healthy eating is based on the kind of menu they were currently enjoying, full of whole grains, healthy fats, and a lot of vegetables.

Hillsdale Sous Chef Danny Fuentes

Hillsdale Sous Chef Danny Fuentes teaching the taco class

A few weeks later, the Hillsdale team hosted its last cooking class of the school year, in which Sous Chef Danny Fuentes focused on the street taco. From the pico de gallo and guacamole to the tacos, the attendees got to make everything.

Danny demonstrated proper and safe knife handling including tips about how to quickly cut an onion and safely remove the pit from an avocado. He explained the marinade for the hanger steak tacos, which are simple and easy to make at home, then requested a student help him grill the steaks. He gave helpful tips on cooking meat and which temperatures correspond to what “doneness.” While the meat was finishing in the oven, the students took a tour of the rest of the kitchen.

Dessert was sopapillas (pillow-shaped fried pastry dough). Danny had prepared the dough in advance, and some students were able to fry up their own, tossing them in a simple cinnamon sugar mixture. Everyone then sliced up the steak and crafted their tacos, adding the queso fresco and cilantro. Then it was time to sit down at the “family table” to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Submitted by William Persson, Marketing Coordinator