April 14th, 2024

‘A way to the heart’: College culinary students learning a passion for food


By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 14, 2024.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Nancy Peters, a second-year culinary student, prepares a Valentine dessert this week in the kitchens at Lethbridge College.

In varying cultures preparing meals can be symbolic of the love and care families shows for each other. In fact, “food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate,” suggests author Alan Wolfelt.

For this Valentine’s Day, local Lethbridge College chefs and instructor’s are sharing how cooking is love made visible. College culinary art chef and instructor, Amara Goodsell, says love can be tasted in the food prepared.

“I’m a firm believer and that people can feel what you put into your food, and good food takes time,” Goodsell said Monday while talking about cooking for the people you love. “So, if you’re going to take the time and be passionate about what you do, you’re going to feel that when you eat the food, I think. If something’s just kind of thrown together, it’s not gonna taste good.”

College culinary arts manager of food services, Mark Dieser, said the Garden Court at the Lethbridge College is already fully booked for dinner during the week of Valentine’s Day, but it still has openings for the lunch menu.

“Our students are preparing a set menu for those evenings,” said Deiser. “Lots of tables for two.”

Goodsell said feelings and communication are often connected to, and shared with, food.

“When you’re cooking for someone you love, memories are made. If I put a bunch of people at the same table with a basket of bread, and I ask them to close their eyes, and taste that bread, they’re all going to feel something different; they’re all going to remember something different. Food is a way of communication. It is a way to the heart.

It can also trigger certain memories.

“I mean, you close your eyes, and you think of those memories. It’s triggers for people some good triggers, it could be bad ones, too, it just depends. Like, maybe you had a burnt pancake or something like that.”

Dieser said passion is a key ingredient behind the cooking by not only the students but the chefs and instructors at the culinary arts program.

“A lot of our chefs are really, really passionate and I’m lucky to be working with them. And I think that’s the love that’s got to go into stuff, your passion and desire, not just slapping something together. You’re really planning it and executing it. And then you know what, we hope that our students have the same passion and love for the industry as we do when they leave.”

Goodsell added that the mistakes made by chefs and students only help them to progress further.

“The biggest form of growth is self-reflection. And we see that with our students every day. I always say you learn more from your mistakes than you do your successes.

So that’s one big thing that they always remember in my class is if they make that mistake, they always remember what they did wrong. And it’s growing from that.”

Dieser said culinary arts students at the college preparing the Valentines dinner meals are within their second and third-year level and have a lot of experience.

“They’ve been here since September; they’ve walked through all the different areas in the kitchen. And then the dining room, (they) work on plates just like a restaurant. That’s where they get their experience. They’ve been working hard on planning the menu with Chef Steven and executing it all over the last few weeks.”

Goodsell said Lethbridge College Garden Court restaurant also showcases local art that is for sale and all the proceedings go to the local artists along with the Garden Court, which works hard to keep costs down for the public to enjoy the meals prepared by the students.

“We try to keep those costs down because they are training, and we want the public to come and support them. We want to keep that cost down on both ends,” said Goodsell.

To book for the Garden Court Valentines lunch menu, go online or through Lethbridge College Garden Court Facebook page.

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