Ramen noodles, ham sandwiches, pasta; all are staples of the American college diet. These meals are quick, cheap and, most importantly, easy to make. And while money and time may play a bigger role in promoting this decision for many to avoid cooking, there is another major factor leading to this long-time tradition; know-how.
For a majority of college students, these years are the first years of living away from home. A lot of things change. Each and every student has their own set of unique responsibilities bestowed upon them.
No longer are mom and dad there to put dinner on the table every night. For the average 18-22 year old this is a major problem. It is every man for himself out there. If it weren’t for meal plans and dollar menus, a good majority of us would starve.
Thanks to a mix of clever marketing it has become easier and cheaper for college kids to shop at the value menu than at the local Kroger. While great for the wallet and terrible for the waistline, this lifestyle cannot last forever. Along with death and taxes, eating is inevitable, and thus through the commutative property, so is cooking.
So drop the double cheeseburger, grab a spatula and look no further than CHEFS for help. Founded by fourth-year STaC Julia Turner during her freshman year, cooks for heritage, education, fellowship and service, or CHEFS for short, is Tech’s all encompassing food organization with a recipe for expanding the culinary knowledge and expertise of students on campus through a wide variety of different hands-on activities events.
For Julia, starting an organization like CHEFS was the only natural thing to do. “I learned to cook with my sisters in high school. It really started when we attempted cooking dinner for our mom on mother’s day (one of Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals—it took an hour and a half). Since then it has spiraled out of control,” Turner said.
“I’d make breakfast for my parents on the weekends, and then continued to branch out of breakfast into other areas of cooking. I have friends who don’t mind trying out whatever I decide to cook up once a week or so, so it’s nice to be able to bring together people with food,” said Michele Mandula, CHEFS treasurer and first-year BME major.
Whether it’s learning tips from GT Dining, having one club member cook their own unique dinner for the whole club and participating in different cookoffs, CHEFS allows students to surround themselves in the art of cooking.
“I’ve only been a part of the club for one year but have already done so many things with them. Our monthly dinners are a great time for both great food and great conversation and a chance to meet new people. It was really hard at the beginning of the year to meet people outside of my classes and this has been a great way to meet new people and become friends,” said Kathryn Murray, first-year BME major.
CHEFS really heats things up by hosting one of the biggest food events of the year, Tech Chef. Much like Iron Chef and Top Chef, Tech Chef’s cook off focuses on having student participants compete in a campus cook off that is based around a secret ingredient.
“Interested competitors send in an application with their original recipe that highlights the year’s key ingredient. Last year we had low fat ricotta cheese, this year was bananas. Competitors can choose to compete in one of three divisions (breakfast, entree, dessert), and if they are selected, they will have 45 minutes to prepare their dish for a panel of judges. This is the second year CHEFS has organized the event and the third year we’ve participated in one way or another,” Turner said.
“Everyone had a really good time cooking, eating the leftovers and sharing recipes. Actually, that’s why I love cooking so much. I find it really fun to share recipes and experiences with other chefs,” Mandula said. Contact CHEFS for details on how to get involved.