James Beard Food Waste Event

I am about a month into my second semester of grad school. I’m taking Food & Gender and Anthropology of Food as my classes. I also was hired as a graduate assistant for Culinary Arts. This is so exciting for me because it means I get to spend more time in the BU Kitchen.

So, I have been incredibly busy this past month. I have two jobs, two classes, and a whole bunch of reading/writing for class. Oh, and I do like being able to sleep and feed myself. I haven’t found much time lately to write for the blog. However, I really want to talk about an event we had last week.

My GA position is the events coordinator. My job is to assist with all hands on events for Programs in Food and Wine. Some examples this semester include macarons class and a kids dumpling class. I prep for the events (doing my mise en place), and I will be acting as a TA for the chefs when they run the events. When I don’t have an event to prep for, I am doing mise en place for the chefs’ demos for the Culinary Arts class.

Last weekend we had our first event. This was a free public class on food waste. Atlanta Chef Jennifer Hill Booker (part of the James Beard Foundation’s Food Waste Advisory Committee) came to give a lesson on reducing food waste. She took ingredients left over from the Culinary Arts class from last week and made food for the event participants. Last week, the students primarily worked with vegetables, so there were a ton of veggies leftover. Chef Jennifer decided to do a breakfast strata with greens and cheese, and a roasted vegetable salad.

On Friday, I spent some time in the kitchen prepping for the event. I prepped a ton of vegetables. This job has been a great experience for me, because I get to work on my knife skills.

Just some of my mise en place

I did not get the chance to meet Chef Jennifer on Friday, as I had to run off to my other job, but I was very much looking forward to meeting her in the morning. Chef Jennifer was such a delight. She was engaging from the first moment we met. After being in the room with her for only about a minute or two, she was encouraging me to apply for a scholarship through the James Beard Foundation. She barely knew me, and we may never meet again; yet, she was invested in my culinary future. That is a sign of a truly genuine teacher. It was clear to me that Chef Jennifer is very talented but also that she loves to teach others. I was rather impressed with her and had a great time working with her.

For this event, Chef Jennifer was doing a short demo of the meal, but ultimately, we had to have the whole meal ready by the time the event started, so we could feed everyone. I spent the morning monitoring the roasted vegetables with Chef Chris, pulling each vegetable as they were done cooking. The salad had eggplant, yellow onion, red onion, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, celery, celeriac, and kabocha squash. We topped the salad with raw chicory and dandelion greens, as well as sliced radish and dressed it with a freshly made apple cider vinaigrette.

During the demo, I was up front with Chef Jennifer to assist with whatever she may need: buttering the pie pan (as shown below), grabbing something from the kitchen, preparing the greens for the salad, etc. I had a great time working this event. Chef Jennifer was so wonderful. I liked being behind the scenes but also in the action during the event. Plus, the food was very good. I was so hungry by the end of the end and very much welcomed a taste of her food. I was intrigued how she decided to put both bleu cheese and fresh mozzarella in the strata. The mozzarella was for the pull factor, and the bleu cheese was for the tang. I’ll be honest though; I did not think those two cheeses would work well together. They really did, and the strata was the best I have ever had. Plus, these dishes were healthy. This was a great chance for people to see how you can take leftover ingredients and make nutritious meals.

This was my first event as a GA, and I think it was a great success. I am looking forward to future events. This job is going to keep my mind and stomach very happy this semester.