Culinary Club starts virtual happy hours


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Students and instructors talk about food and classes during weekly virtual happy hours.

Summer Cox, Digital Media Editor

Culinary students and their instructors swapped stories and compared notes last Friday on food, restaurant management, and taking and teaching cooking classes in a COVID-19 world.

In the Culinary Club’s first virtual happy hour of the semester, the club discussed the successful transition of culinary courses to a mostly online program, which has included picking up prepped ingredients at the school and writing assignments on the flavor of a dish.

“We had to put in a lot of contingency plans in case a class got canceled, because the moment a single person is even remotely considered ‘COVID-potential,’ that class is canceled,” Chef Mike Herrin, an instructor, said. “One of those specifically is putting ingredient kits together that students can pick up, so that they can continue to do their lessons at home.”

Like all AACC courses, culinary classes moved from the campus to online when the college shut down in March in response to the pandemic. This semester, a handful of students are back in campus kitchens in Arnold and Glen Burnie to take in-person classes while wearing masks and social distancing.

Culinary Instructor and Chef Carrie Svoboda mentioned a silver lining of the online switch. Because of required write-ups, students have to pay attention to the flavor profile and process of making a dish in a different way than when they were cooking alongside instructors.

“It was really interesting,” Svoboda said. “There was an option in the spring when we got sent home that you could do everything written if you didn’t have the means to make it. It was really in depth. I had a student that had to take that option for several weeks in a row.”

Because of that, Svoboda said, the student felt he learned more “than actually cooking it because he really had to think the process out in every single detail.”

“In your [online] class you had to say how it tasted and just be honest about it, because you’re not necessarily getting points off if it doesn’t taste right, because the whole point is to learn how to correct it,” said culinary student Orkie Bradley. “So, if you were honest with the director, then they could say, ‘Well, this is probably what you need to do.’”

Bradley said students took photos and videos as they prepared dishes at home “so that the instructor could see us put a dish together. That worked out pretty well.”

The group spent the bulk of the meeting discussing vegan diets, all-woodfire kitchens, how to make a sphere out of demi-glace, and a restaurant with a chef who can get 16 cuts off of a whole chicken.

“We decided to start doing our meetings as happy hours to give everyone a chance to connect with each other,” club President Ariana Smith said.