By Gabrielle Owens
Students living on campus learned how to cook healthy meals with the At Home With Hanni events, hosted by Youngstown State University’s Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center last semester.
Ryan McNicholas, associate director of the rec center, said he and Michael Hanni, coordinator for student conduct, worked together to create the virtual cooking event for students.
“It is a cooking event to show students how to make some dishes in their residence hall or apartments that they can do very easily in a fast, easy and safe manner,” he said.
Hanni has been cooking since he was 15 years old, and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania to receive a certification in culinary arts. This allows him to give students professional cooking tips, aiding in their meal preparation.
“I actually have been a chef since 2011. My dad grew up cooking, so it kind of just has been in the family, of being chefs and cooks. I have been doing it all my life, so it’s kind of a love for it,” he said.
In order to comply with COVID-19 protocols, many in-person events were moved online, which gave Hanni and McNicholas the idea to create a cooking event to help round out students’ college experience.
“We wanted to change things up, especially with having to do a lot of things virtually, and we thought, ‘Why not do something cooking-wise?’ So that’s where the idea comes from. This allowed me to use my culinary degree and be able to cook some delicious meals for campus,” Hanni said.
Hanni said each cooking event consisted of 20 to 30 minutes of content for students to follow, which will give them a chance to recreate the monthly featured dish with ingredients accessible in residence halls.
“We will have one recipe per video, and we’re hoping to do it once a month for the rest of the school year,” he said.
McNicholas encourages students to be creative and have fun while cooking with the recipes. He also advises students to use resources on campus if needed. For students interested in entering the culinary arts field, Hanni advises them to not give up and to pursue their dream jobs.
“If that is something you want to do and want to take into, it’s definitely an art form. So it’s being able to express an artistic side of food,” Hanni said.
Students interested can view the latest cooking episodes on the YSU rec center YouTube page or on its website.