Cooking class for freshmen

Reposted from the Crimson:

Everything has its benefits, even fat. A group of ten freshmen learned this lesson—and more—last night at a vegetarian cooking class, held at the house of Freshman Dean Thomas A. Dingman ’67.

“Not all fats are equal,” said chef Martin T. Breslin, the director for culinary operations. “Oil is a fat, but it’s a healthy fat.”

The event, hosted by the Food Literacy Project, provided students with an opportunity to learn how to cook healthy food while mingling with the chef, the Dean, and their fellow classmates.

As Breslin drizzled a generous helping of olive oil into a pan, with classical music playing in the background, he reminded the attendees that “good cooking starts with good oil.”

Breslin, who came to Harvard in 2002, suggested that when cooking for yourself, it’s better to cook without a recipe. This go-with-your-gut attitude, he said, allows for more creativity.

According to Food Literacy Project Coordinator Dara B. Olmsted ’00, more than 80 people expressed interest in participating in the cooking class.

Though Lauren M. Chaleff ’14 was initially put on the waiting list, she was notified a few days ago that she was among the lucky freshmen—all of whom turned out to be female—who were invited to Dingman’s house for the class.

A vegetarian for three years, Chaleff said she loves Annenberg for its variety of options and accommodations for those leading a meatless lifestyle.

While vegan split pea soup was simmering on the stove, students molded palm-sized patties with black beans that had been boiled and soaked the day before. Nearby, Breslin scooped a spoonful of Dijon mustard and poured champagne vinegar into the orange vinaigrette dressing.

“Bring it on!” Dingman said, generating laughter in the kitchen.

During the event, Dingman recalled a story he heard from a parent several years ago. After taking a cooking class at Dingman’s house, the parent told Dingman that his son came home and stepped up in the kitchen, excited to show his parents what he learned during his first semester at Harvard. “Harvard education should be more than passing the required courses,” Dingman said.

The smell of food permeated through the house as students complained of watery mouths. Soon after the night’s feast—which also included whole grain pasta primavera and bulgur wheat pilaf with dried fruits—was served, students were eager for their seconds and thirds.

Olmsted said the cooking class, an annual event, reflects the mission of FLP because it not only builds a community among food enthusiasts, but also teaches students about food preparation.“Students don’t get the chance to cook in college because of the dining halls,” she said. “Knowing how to cook prepares them for life after college.”

Later this month, FLP will host additional cooking classes, including one on Mediterranean food in Quincy on Feb. 8 and one on hors d’oeuvres in Mather on Feb. 10.

—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at
– Photo by Jane Seo

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