Get cooking — that’s good looking

Both gas and electric stoves are available for students to use in Meshel Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss

During the fall semester, Youngstown State University students interested in the culinary arts started a new club. The Cooking Club offers a hands-on learning experience for students to try diverse foods and learn new skills in the kitchen.

The club meets in Meshel Hall’s cooking lab, which features everything students may need, from ovens and stoves to any utensils such as pots, pans, cutting boards and blenders. 

Addison Kern, a freshman exercise science major, is president of the Cooking Club. Kern said one of the club’s goals is to teach students recipes they can make on their own, while keeping meals cheap, healthy and easy. 

“We make healthy options that are easy to make outside of our club,” Kern said. “If you’re a college student who’s living in a dorm and you’re getting tired of your campus food, it’s an option for you to come once every other week, to come make something that’s different than what you’re usually eating, and something you can bring back and make yourself in a dorm.”

Before winter break, students went over how to read recipes and learned measuring styles, prepared seasonings, made chicken noodle soup and decorated cookies to celebrate the holidays. 

This year, the club is planning to make meals from different cultures. Kaitlyn Eger, a freshman exercise science major, is the vice president and said each meeting will focus on a different culture. 

“One week we’ll do Mexican, some weeks we’ll do Japanese, American — just to learn — that way we can keep the interest of all different varieties [of foods],” Eger said. 

The club also accommodates students’ dietary needs and restrictions, according to Eger.

“We have a couple of dairy intolerances. We have a pineapple allergy and we have a latex allergy,” Eger said. “As we get more people, we’re going to have to start working around more dietary restrictions … but it can teach you — if you don’t have the ingredients for something — you can figure it out.”

Julieann Cheng is the club’s advisor and a part-time faculty member in the Health Professions Department. Cheng said cooking is a way to connect students with different backgrounds and mentioned, “anyone can cook.” 

“It’s been great to see the interest and there has been a lot of diversity amongst the students here in the club and the interest in the food items they want to cook and [learn] how to make,” Cheng said. 

Cheng explained the Cooking Club works alongside Students in Dietetics to promote nutritional education and craft recipes. 

If the recipes students make have leftovers, Cheng said these portions will be distributed to the Rescue Mission of The Mahoning Valley later that day.

“The Rescue Mission loved that idea,” Cheng said. “It may be up to five extra meals [prepared] and then we can drop them off.”

In March, the Cooking Club and the Students in Dietetics will team up for National Nutrition Month to create a program to share information on nutrition and cooking. The Cooking Club is also planning a raffle and food drive later in the year.

The club’s first meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 and will feature a guest demonstrator.