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Bama Dining chefs teach cooking class on sauces

Kyarra Harris

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The Crimson Kitchen cooking series began Jan. 26 with their first class, “Learn Your Mother Sauces.” Chefs from around the UA campus gathered in Fresh Foods to teach students and community members the five basic sauces: Espagnole, Bechamel, Veloute, Hollandaise and tomato sauce.

LaShana Sorrell, marketing manager for Bama Dining, said she wants participants to have fun, but also to know that cooking can be easy.

“We serve all the students, faculty, staff and the community members on a daily basis,” Sorrell said. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to allow our chefs to teach people how to cook some of the things they normally prepare.”

The participants split into small groups, and separated into stations. Each chef taught them how to create a sauce and gave them an example meal to go with it.

James Rose, a chef manager, taught Espagnole sauce. Rose said this is the first time for the event but he hopes the program can grow by reaching out to others.

“My thing is ‘reach one teach one,’ ” Rose said. “We’re trying to get the community involved with this one [class] and grow from it.”

Rose informed participants of how to use different ingredients at home along with teaching his sauce.

“Ragu is good, but homemade is better,” Rose said. “Homemade can be healthier by using organic tomatoes and kosher salt. Knowing the additives that go into what you’re making helps creating a healthier atmosphere.”

SGA President Elliot Spillers participated in the lessons. Spillers said he’s worked with Emilyn Freeman, director of catering for Bama Dining, and Bruce McVeagh, C.E.C. and general manager for Bama Dining.

“One of my main things as SGA president was student wellness and wellbeing,” Spillers said. “I’ve worked a lot with Bruce and Emilyn to really try and provide healthy options for students on campus and this would be a great addition to our initiative.”

Matthew Wilkins, chef manager of Lakeside Dining, prepared and taught how to make Bechamel sauce, with macaroni and cheese as an example.

“We’re trying to teach everyone a better way as far as trying to get them away from ‘out of the box’ or ‘in the microwave’ type stuff,” Wilkins said. “I want to show people what we do as chefs, and to have fun. It’s food, you should enjoy it.”

Sorrell said Crimson Kitchen is a series and they hope to do at least one more class before the semester ends.

Rose hinted at an idea for the next class.

“We’re thinking about doing a[n] Italian night,” Rose said. “The more participants we get, the more we’ll grow, so with a[n] Italian night, they’ll learn how to make pizza dough, pasta how to make tomato sauce from the mother sauce.”

Cynthia Ryan is a retired high school principal and new to Tuscaloosa. She said she would recommend this class to others.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn some new skills, and it really was easy,” Ryan said. “I hope they can tell us what the rest of the series will be soon.”

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Bama Dining chefs teach cooking class on sauces