Rutgers University–Camden students can discover the joy of cooking and nutrition in the newly opened, state-of-the-art Teaching Kitchen. The collaborative space, located in the Raptor Dining Hall on the main floor of the Campus Center, looks more like something out of “Top Chef” than the typical university dining hall. The space is open daily for students to prepare meals and snacks tailored to their tastes, dietary restrictions, and faith traditions. Classes on nutrition and culinary skills are held every other week, empowering students to plan menus, cook with set ingredients, and explore cuisines from around the world.
An enthusiastic crowd of Rutgers–Camden students gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Teaching Kitchen on Oct. 4, cheering on as classmates competed in a cooking challenge using fresh ingredients from the kitchen’s fully stocked pantry.
“The Teaching Kitchen is one innovative way that we are personalizing the student experience,” said Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis. “Students are learning that mealtime can be healthy, delicious, educational, and full of diverse cultural influences.”
“The Teaching Kitchen is one innovative way that we are personalizing the student experience.”
At a sauté station, students can choose from a range of ingredients, including grains, noodles, tofu, proteins, cheeses, and an assortment of vegetables. The cooking station features five flat electric griddles, a host of condiments, and just about every spice imaginable. At the “Smoothie Paradise,” station, students can pick from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and yogurts to whip up their favorite concoctions. The waffle station, loaded with toppings like cinnamon, chocolate syrup, and caramel, is the perfect destination for breakfast or dessert
“We have stocked the pantry with core ingredients but are always open to suggestions for new ingredients that could enhance participation and satisfaction,” said Kathryn DuPlessis, director of dining services for Gourmet Dining at Rutgers–Camden.
Students looking for recipes can scan QR codes in a virtual cookbook. They can also check out the Teaching Kitchen website for tips on creating do-it-yourself dishes such as pasta, omelets, overnight oats, and stir-fries.
Mary Beth Daisey, associate chancellor for student affairs at Rutgers–Camden, said the Teaching Kitchen was inspired by students who asked to cook for themselves and to know what ingredients were in the foods they were eating. The kitchen, she said, allows Gourmet Dining to suit the students’ individual needs while expanding healthy, fresh food options. Students also learn how to purchase food for themselves in a healthy and positive way.
“This is especially important for students with limited ingredient choices in their diet due to food allergens, health needs, or faith traditions.”
“It empowers students to have more options for their own well-being,” Daisey said. “This is especially important for students with limited ingredient choices in their diet due to food allergens, health needs, or faith traditions.”
Essence Alford, a second-year computer science major, and Jaquan Ortiz, a second-year business major, said that a friend had recommended they stop by the Teaching Kitchen. “Just make something,” Ortiz encouraged Alford, who wanted to create a dish without cow’s milk or excess carbohydrates and fat. Ortiz said that he had just heard about the nutrition and culinary classes and was interested in learning more.
Classes are limited to five students and are open on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, email Nick Mazza at RUDietitian@gourmetdiningllc.com.
Creative Design: Karaamat Abdullah
Photographer: Ron Downes, Jr.