Most students need to pass a test or give a presentation for a final grade.
Starting next spring, some students might need to show their pasta-rolling abilities in order to pass a class in IU’s new teaching kitchen in Read Center.
“This generation that we’re teaching now are doers,” said Brian Gilley, a professor of anthropology teaching a spring 2019 class in the kitchen on Italian food and culture.
Gilley plans on using the kitchen to explore Italian history through food and demonstrate differences between Italian and American cuisine based on ingredients. The course stems from cooking demonstrations he did with students as part of an annual study abroad program in Italy.
“It always bothered me that I had to all the way go to Italy in order to do that kind of hands-on teaching,” Gilley said.
Carl Ipsen is a professor of history and director of the IU Food Institute, which promotes food studies at IU. He became involved with the development of the teaching kitchen when he was creating the institute.
“There are so many issues around food – environmental, social, economic, cultural – that need more attention,” Ipsen said.
He said the teaching kitchen will allow food studies to expand at IU, give visiting chefs a venue for demonstrations and let student groups practice their culinary skills. He and the director of IU Dining, Rahul Shrivastav, have already discussed creating culinary classes for students who want to learn kitchen skills.
Access to the kitchen for spring semester classes is already in demand.
“I’ve already had at least three instructors approach me about teaching classes in the space,” Ipsen said.
While he has only received inquiries from instructors of classes with cultural focuses, he said he hopes instructors teaching biology and chemistry classes use the space to explore the science behind cooking.
IU Dining will also be using the space to train new employees and create new recipes for on-campus dining locations.
“We saw a need for a teaching kitchen because of the staff training we do, recipe and menu development,” said Ancil Drake, IU Dining’s associate director for production and executive chef.
Drake said IU Dining began planning the creation of the kitchen between five and six years ago because there was no space on campus dedicated to teaching new staff members. Once the construction became a reality, he said IU Dining decided to open up the kitchen to the rest of IU.
He said the new teaching kitchen will allow students to develop their own cooking skills and to learn about different cultures through their food.
“Cooking skills are important and cultural,” Drake said.
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