From learning proper knife skills to how to cook a chicken, UA’s Cooking on Campus classes cover it all. The bimonthly classes held at the Campus Recreation Center teach students how to prepare a meal they can enjoy themselves.
The program, which has been in place at UA since 2011, features student-run classes that guide students through making at least three different recipes for a meal. Each class costs $5 and all students are welcome to attend.
Program Advisor Christy Wilson said nobody is left behind at these classes.
“I think it’s a good way to introduce students who have no cooking skills to the act of cooking and hopefully enjoyment of cooking, and for students who cook regularly, this is a great way to introduce them to new recipes, ideas and ways to prepare maybe something that they just have been curious to prepare,” Wilson said.
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What students prepare at these classes is determined by the Student Nutrition Coalition of the Student Health Advisory Committee, part of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. Wilson said the committee makes decisions on recipes taught and who teaches.
To teach a class, student chefs first spend one semester observing classes before taking on the teaching role, according to Milena Carrera, a senior studying nursing and a student chef with Cooking on Campus. She said this is her third year with the cooking program.
She said there are different health goals for the recipes and the student directors who write them look up all the nutrition facts for the recipes.
Sometimes, keeping recipes healthy means using alternative ingredients to make them. A recipe for protein Rice Krispy treats at the class Jan. 24 swapped marshmallows and butter for peanut butter, honey and dark chocolate.
“Students are exposed to so many unhealthy food selections,” Wilson said. “A lot of times, these are the foods that are most convenient to eat and we know that those convenience foods are not typically healthy food options, so this is kind of the more nutritious alternative to all those other foods that, as students, you have options to pay for every day.”
Wilson said the Arizona Student Unions provide ingredients for the classes, which helps keep the cost of the program to $5 per student. Students who participate in the classes get to eat or take home what they make in the class.
Students may come away from the class with more than food. Wilson said that the classes are a great way for students to meet each other. At the end of the classes, students can enjoy the meals they just prepared together.
“Everybody gets to hang out and enjoy the fruits of their labor and eat together,” Wilson said. “It’s really nice to see students come together in that way.”
Carrera called teaching the cooking classes an honor and a fun experience.
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“I think it’s fun, easy and just a helpful skill in life, because a lot of students don’t know how to cook or are too scared, so this kind of makes it easy, and it’s a lighthearted situation to learn how,” she said.
Mya Long, a freshman studying film and television who attended the Jan. 24 cooking class, said she did not have much cooking experience beforehand.
“I really want to be more experienced, or at least know how to make a couple extra meals and this helps, at least learn one more meal.”
The next Cooking on Campus class is February 7 and will feature recipes for cheesecake strawberries, fruit and spinach salad and cauliflower pizza bites.
Students can register online before the class to reserve a spot.