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SMC seniors partake in ‘Real World’ lessons

Laura Baumgartner | Thursday, November 30, 2006

Saint Mary’s seniors stepped out of the academic environment Tuesday night, sampled some delectable treats and learned some valuable life lessons along the way.

Chefs and a sommelier tutored 30 College students about the arts of cooking and fine wine Tuesday night in the Noble Family Dining Hall.

The event – sponsored by the senior board’s “Real World” committee – was created in an effort to provide activities for seniors that would ease the transition into post-graduate life, senior class president Kat Kindt said.

The night began with a lesson in salad dressings and appetizers as Sodexho executive chef Patrick McGarry taught students how to properly create a balsamic vinegar reduction, which was sampled on strawberries and a Caprese salad.

McGarry said he was inspired to become a chef at a young age – a dream he attributes to his mother, who put him in charge of cooking dinner while the family was at work.

“We wanted to be able to sit down and have [a family dinner] experience together, and I thought it was fun because they always enjoyed it,” he said.

McGarry – who created the menu and a recipe booklet for the event – said teaching a cooking class at Saint Mary’s was something he has always wanted to do.

“A cooking class is for anybody who has the desire or wants to learn different things about cooking,” he said. “That’s my passion, so I want to spread that.”

The main course of the evening was tortellini with Italian flavored chicken, vegetables and a homemade Alfredo sauce. McGarry selected several volunteers to assist him with the preparation of the sauce while the remaining students observed the process.

Seniors Courtney Johnson and Anne Cusack were two of the volunteers who participated in the hands-on instruction.

“As graduating seniors, it’s great to have formal instruction on how to cook,” Johnson said.

Cusack also felt that the class was beneficial.

“This is the best event I’ve been to at Saint Mary’s yet,” she said, “I learned so much.”

Chef Jake Tannehill said the key to making this event a success was teaching students how to make meals they may have originally thought were too complicated or difficult.

“We want to get the knowledge out to people about how simple things can really be,” he said. “You can make something different by doing something really simple.”

Receiving instruction on new and almost effortless skills was the highlight of the event for many of the seniors.

“I liked learning about the different techniques and learning how you could spice up a dish with something really simple and easy,” senior Ashley Oberst said.

While students sampled the meal, they also received a lesson in wine tasting from sommelier Kevin Hogan.

Hogan began his career in the wine industry in 1989 with Gallo Wines and now owns The Vine and Spirit wine shop in South Bend, from which he donated a white, red and dessert ice wine for the tasting.

Hogan provided instruction for properly storing and tasting wine, including a demonstration on swirling wine in the glass to promote oxidation – a task that enhances the wine’s flavor, he said.

“[This] was a great way to bond with everyone and it was neat to be able to try all the different wines,” senior Maggie Oldham said.

For dessert, students learned how to make bananas foster and take a plain angel food cake and make it more unique by toasting it and topping it with chocolate sauce, whipping cream and toasted coconut.

Kindt said she felt everyone involved thought the cooking class was a success.

“We’re doing it again next semester,” she said. “What more needs to be said? We had a great response and I feel sorry for the people who didn’t come.”