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Dining Employees Participate in Plant-Based Cooking Class

In an effort to increase our awareness of plant-based food offerings traditionally referred to as vegan, Purdue Dining & Culinary, working in conjunction with Forward Food, hosted a two-day, plant-based cooking class for campus food service professionals.

Chef preparing a plant-based meal

Participants in the event prepared plant-based recipes after learning and discussion about the benefits of plant-based diets and were introduced to creative ways to incorporate plant-based meals into the day-to-day menu at Purdue. Forward Food, an organization sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), partners with food service companies to add more plant-based food options to menus in an institutional setting.

“We learned how easily it can be to incorporate plant-based food into the day-to-day menus in our dining courts,” said Jack Kennedy, Executive Chef of Residential Dining.

HSUS chef Amy Zarichnak led attendees through discussions about the attraction of plant-based eating and hands-on practice with plant-based cooking. Participants used whole-food ingredients to prepare more than 30 delicious, plant-strong breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes without the use of meats, eggs or dairy products. Employees also received continuing education credits for completing the class. Chef Nick Alessandri created a popular mushroom street tacos dish.

Fourteen culinarians representing the varied units in Dining & Culinary worked in teams each day to produce recipes ranging from chickpea sliders to bananas foster, a dessert consisting of cake, bananas, vegan butter and soy. Each team prepared, presented and plated their dish.

Members of the Purdue community sampled each dish prepared by the participating chefs at two lunches held in Windsor Dining Court. Among the most popular dishes were vegetarian crab cakes made of hearts of palm and nori flakes to provide seafood flavor, served with remoulade sauce; nachos made from wonton wrappers with a mocked cheese sauce made of creamed potatoes and carrots; and broccoli salad made with plant-based mayonnaise and almond milk.

A plant based meal

The experience gained by Purdue Dining & Culinary chefs will be employed to produce varieties of dishes to serve Purdue’s growing student population. Plant-based eating is gaining in popularity as millions of Americans eat meat-free meals at least one day a week.

The HSUS advocates reducing or replacing consumption of animal products through programs such as Meatless Monday and refining diets by switching to products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards.