Amid the clatter of kitchen knives and graters, students gained free advice on a holistic range of topics. “If you’re feeling sick, take natural ginger root and use it to make some tea. If you want to make the most out of your garden, pinch off the flowering bud to stimulate the leaves to prevent them from dying.” This kind of practical advice was given to students during prep work in the kitchen. Promoting a healthy lifestyle in every facet is what this event is all about.
Thursday, Health, Nutrition and Fitness committee under the Student Wellness commission hosted “Bruin in the Kitchen” with Vietnamese cuisine. Traditional recipes like spring rolls, vermicelli, mango salad and chicken lettuce wraps were on the menu. Students made the trek up to Sunset Recreation Center despite the cold and rainy weather. The event was free and students walked away with a plate of leftovers.
Walking into the Mesa A room of Sunset Recreation Center, five tables were spread out across the room, with each table containing produce, a cutting board, kitchen knives and graters. Groups of five worked at each table under the supervision of a Health Nutrition Fitness member, while the instructor at the head of the room demonstrated cooking techniques to the class.
Cynthia Young, a UCLA alumna, served as the instructor for the monthly class. She has professional training as a cook but said that it is only a hobby.
“The recipes are classic ““ basic stuff. I teach techniques and a variety of different things as well as how to cook different cultural food. In the past, we’ve done a class on Mexican food, Russian and French. The classes are always full and people are very interested,” Young said.
While “Bruin in the Kitchen” takes place once a month, the Health Nutrition, Fitness commission, does not always host it. The event is co-programmed by the Cultural Affairs Commission and ASUCLA provides the funds with which to buy the produce and other materials. Over all, it is a collaborative effort.
Once the students walked in, they were asked to wash their hands, put on plastic gloves with which to handle the food and choose a table. Within their small groups, individuals took turns prepping the food, such as peeling the mango for the mango salad. Simultaneously, the instructor would offer up simple kitchen tricks, like holding the peeler away from one’s body as a safety precaution.
Young also taught students how to put their fingers parallel to the blade, as they fed the blade cilantro. She also had some trivia questions prepared for the class as she simultaneously made her way to all the groups to assist them with any problems and answer any questions.
Chelsea Pope, a fourth-year English student noticed one drawback.
“Not everyone was given the opportunity to be hands on. There were more people than there were things to do,” Pope said.
Often one member of the group would take charge and do the majority of the work. This problem might be regulated if a sign-in system is established to make sure that only those that RSVP’d are allowed in.
Friends Larissa Wehning, a third-year comparative literature student, and Mylinh Pham, a third-year geography student attended the event. Wehning said she had lived in Vietnam for a year but did not consider herself to be good at cooking Vietnamese food. Wehning invited her friend, Pham so both could learn how to cook.
“I’m Vietnamese myself but it’s been awhile since I’ve had traditional Vietnamese food. Everything was really well organized and the food was great. Best of all, the recipes are affordable and easy to make at home,” Pham said.
Shane Settle, a third-year math of computation student said he came, eager to learn some exotic recipes.
“I’m really interested in learning how to cook. Since starting college, I’ve branched out in terms of trying new things and expanding my palate, like with Asian food,” Settle said.
The laid-back atmosphere of the class made Settle feel at ease and found the overall experience to be enjoyable.
“The food was amazing, the people were nice, and most importantly it wasn’t stressful. You could do as little or as much as you wanted,” Settle said.