“If the pan isn’t talking to you, turn up the heat! The vegetables should be constantly talking,” said AVI chef Stephan Baity, as he skillfully flipped a collection of vegetables in a steaming fry pan. His eighteen watchful apprentice chefs laughed, as he continued to demonstrate what it takes to blend Asian flavored sauces, your own tempura and even roll sushi.
Chef Baity and manager Keith Vestel, are usually seen at the dining hall rushing around catering to hundreds of students that pour in each day. What one may not know is they also love to serve in other ways. The passionate chefs decided to host a five-week cooking program aimed at anyone who wants to branch out their culinary skills.
“The new kitchen facility is a perfect set-up for cooking lessons, and it also breaks the monotony of general work”, Vestel said. “It’s a fun opportunity to meet new people, learn, and at the end you get a good meal out of it.”
Two weeks into the series, they have covered the how-to’s on creating tasty Italian and Asian meals. Three lessons remain, which are held on Friday nights from 7:30 until 9 p.m. in the dining hall. It cost $25 for individual classes and for students, a special discount of only $15. On the upcoming agenda: French, Caribbean and for couples, a romantic dinner for two.
“I really enjoy cooking at home, and these classes were a great opportunity to extend my knowledge, and also have some fun,” said participant Tory Tucker.
During the course of the night the participants received a colorful demonstration in the art of sauce making by Steve, which included a general Asian sauce followed by a sweet and sour mix. Next, divided up into two groups, they put their newfound knowledge into practice and made sushi, spring rolls, tempura chicken and wontons.
Two hours later, the diverse group of alumni, friends, and family sat down to enjoy their successfully hand crafted Asian cuisine, soaking in the low-key, relaxed and peaceful time together. Everyone appeared satisfied with their achievements, as they bonded over a good meal.
The eager AVI staff has much to offer in skill and providing a place to form friendships. “Sometimes there is a stigma placed on us as being merely cafeteria chefs, but we can do so much more” Baity said. “We hope that it will encourage Malone students to attend.”