In a repurposed room at the Weber State University Davis campus, students chopped fresh ingredients and experimented with herbs in a classroom featuring six newly constructed cooking stations.
Exploration in Culinary Arts and Food Science, or Nutrition 1240, is brand new to Weber State’s course list. Nutrition faculty members Joan Thompson and Heidi Jenkins worked together to create the class.
“The whole idea behind this class is to explore more sustainable ways to produce, acquire and consume foods,” Thompson said. “Because right now our current food system is not sustainable for our generations to come.”
Every week, the class focuses on different recipes for healthy living. The aroma of food floats through the hallway, as students work in pairs to create different dishes assigned to them.
Week two featured edible flowers, herbs and spices as key ingredients. Students showcased dishes such as cilantro chicken, caprese bites, lemon thyme rice, roasted vegetables and pasta with fresh pesto.
After their creations were done cooking, they sipped on water infused with lemon and green apple, and garnished with rose buds.
Jenkins said she enjoyed researching what recipes would be used in the class.
“We included all of the nutritional information in the recipes so that they can see exactly what’s in the food and the health benefits that they’re gaining from it,” Jenkins said. “So it’s something that can be useful for the rest of their lives.”
Once the cooking is completed and the food is plated, everyone gathers to taste and share their food. Students said this is the most enjoyable part of the class.
The stations present their dishes and discuss the nutritional value of what they prepared.
“We talk about the importance of food and the impact that diet makes on your health without going through the gory chemistry,” Thompson said. “It’s a live and learn class.”
Each student also fills out a recipe evaluation form Thompson and Jenkins use to gain insight on the process. They will use this feedback to decide if any changes to the class should be made in the future.
To further promote sustainability, a campus greenhouse and community garden are also in the works. Meanwhile, Thompson said her living room doubles as a greenhouse to grow the fresh herbs and other ingredients.
Katrine Nielsen, a WSU senior majoring in nutrition, said she enjoys the farm-to-fork aspect of the class.
“I’ve always loved cooking, so when I saw the class I thought why not,” Nielsen said. “It’s been good.”
Before the classroom was renovated to a cooking lab, it was a nurses’ clinical room. Thompson credits the funding from the Davis campus dean for the transformation.
The class currently has 11 students, but Thompson and Jenkins say they hope to see it grow in future semesters.
The class meets in D2 Room 236 on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a lecture portion and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. for hands-on lab work.
“It’s not a really hard academic class,” Jenkins said. “Instead, it’s just a lot of fun and really useful.”