Most Memorable Food Moment

WHC Faculty Tell Us About Their Most Memorable Food Moment

As you can imagine, working at a Culinary and Hospitality College has many perks. From the smell of buttery croissants that weaves it’s way up to my office (the Pastry Shop is right below) to the daily changing lunch menu where I can taste expertly crafted dishes from around the world in just one meal. I’ve had my share of mind-blowing food moments without ever leaving the walls of Walnut Hill College and Bistro Perrier.

Besides the sweet and savory treats that we have access to throughout the year, luckily, many of our faculty and staff have also had the pleasure of taking part in our gastronomic travels! From France to the Bahamas, to Disney World, to England and beyond, as lovers of food and hospitality, we’re always searching for the most memorable food moment.

So, we present to you the most memorable food moments as told by our Chefs, Faculty, and Staff…

Chef Chris Ferretti

When I was a culinary student, we sponsored a dinner to honor Alain Ducasse.  During a break in the courses, the dean of my school, Alain Sahallic, came and told me that I had to meet someone in the dining room.   I thought he meant my parents, who were invited.   I was escorted to the table where my parents were dining.  They were also dining with Alain Ducasse, who pulled out a copy of his book “Flavors of France,”  which he had autographed and handed to me.  My parents had purchased the book which was hard to get in New York at the time, and asked Chef Ducasse to sign it for me. Chef Ducasse asked Dean Sahallic to bring from the kitchen so he to hand me the book personally.  

Chef Todd Braley

One time, while I was working at The Ritz-Carlton there was a meeting of Democratic Senators. The whole hotel was swarming with security and Capital Police, a version of the secret service. I was gathering my normal mise en place, passing armed personnel going in and out of the walk-in in the banquet kitchens. When I came upstairs to the restaurant and walked to my station, I saw Ted Kennedy sitting at the bar by himself having a scotch. The restaurant wasn’t even open. I continued with my prep, direct sight of him at that point was obscured by a structural column. An aide came to retrieve him and as he passed me, I was peeling shrimp.  He stopped and asked “are those gulf shrimp?” to which I replied, “yes Senator, they are from the Gulf of Cape Cod”. Knowing, of course, that his family had a deep connection with the area. He laughed and pointing to me said, “this man’s a politician, where are you from son?”

I told him about my parents retiring to the Cape and said it was such an honor to meet him. The whole time….I never stopped peeling the shrimp! THAT is what this business and organizations like The Ritz-Carton teach us. It doesn’t matter if it’s my mom or the Dali Lama – you treat people with grace and hospitality and you do your ‘grudge’ work efficiently regardless of the circumstances so that you can provide a memorable hospitality experience for the guest.

Chef Jackie Lovecchico

A small Korean BBQ joint in San Francisco with great friends.

Chef Gerald Goard

My most memorable food experience was at Chez Panisse, Alice Water’s restaurant in Berkeley, California. From start to finish the food and service were absolutely excellent.

Chef Greg Slonaker

Dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s in London several years ago on the Tour of England with Walnut Hill College bachelor students.

Chef Jose Adorno

Kneading dough with my Father at 3 years old.

Chef Eric Paraskevas

My family had the chance to visit the picturesque Azores Islands in Portugal. We spent two glorious weeks in Portugal with about 5 days on the Azores Islands. On our last day, we splurged and had a guide take us around. We drove up into the mountains high enough to be kissed by clouds. The guide then took us to an area called Furnas, which is home to a lot of geothermal activity, full of iron-rich water, geysers, and most importantly for our purposes, giant puddles of boiling water that constantly bubble and create clouds of steam in the air above. Once there he showed us the hot springs where the locals actually cooked Portugal’s famous dish Cozido, in the ground. How insanely cool that was! We learned that everyone in the village of Furnas, from the restaurateurs to the home cooks, was allocated a space to dig a hole and bury their pot. The village had turned this spot into a bit of a tourist attraction, there were even vendors selling fresh corn on the cob cooked moments before in the hot springs, allowing one to get a hot delicious bite while looking into the awesome raw power of the a volcano created hot spring. Biting into succulent juicy fresh corn on the cob, having the kernels explode with their soft buttery flavor hiding an intense sweetness. What an experience! After seeing this we learned that our tour guide had arranged for us to eat in his family’s restaurant and sample the famous “Cozido.” We all gathered in the small restaurant in the center of the Furnas village and they brought out the pot to allow us to see how it cooks, how it is layered inside the pots. There were sausages, pork ribs, chicken, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. This experience is forever ingrained in me because of the hospitality and warmth everyone showed us, they treated us as if we were long lost family members that they had been searching for.

Chef Christina Pirello

My first pizza in Naples, Italy.

Chef Kate Honeyman

One of my most memorable meals was on a trip to France with the school. We were pulling up to the town of Auxerre, which is perched on a hill and across a river. The picturesque nature of the town was an ideal backdrop for one of my most favorite meals. As we walked with the students to the neighborhood shops and chocolatiers, we knew that lunch was nearing and that it would be worth the wait. I had heard many tales of the wonderful “Quiche Lady” is Auxerre. I believe it was called “Le Petite Monde d’Edith” meaning “The Little World of Edith.” A wonderfully charming small restaurant that was run by a husband and wife team. The atmosphere was chic and comfortable and just what I had envisioned. We were served with smiles, enjoyed the most delightful meal that was simple and simply perfect! I have had many meals that may have been seen as higher quality, but with such great company, even the simple becomes extraordinary.   

Chef Marie Stecher

Back when I was a student at The Restaurant School and during my trip to France, I had the most memorable food experience. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was the last night of our trip. The restaurant served wine from a Chablis winery that we visited that week and cheese from the cheese farm we visited that day. I remember the dessert, a Chocolate pate with a coffee Anglaise that was so rich, so simple, but yet so delicious.  Everyone at the table wanted to lick their dessert plates (it was that good)!

Chef John Gallagher

My mother used to make the most fantastic Sauerbraten. She would marinate/ pickle it for two days and then slow roast it for hours. She would make the most fantastic potato balls and a gravy that would bring tears to your eyes – she used to say that the more wine she drank, the better the gravy was. And she was right! She is 80 years old now and doesn’t get to cook anymore, but for me, it still remains as the most memorable food experience.

Chef Derek Andress

Too many to choose just one, but one that is certainly on my Top 5 list is dinner at Jean-George.  It was 2003, and my wife Joy and I went to NYC for a weekend of dining.  We ate dinner at Jean- George, it was amazing of course, but when it came time to order dessert we had to order several things just to see and try.  The one that stood out was a passion fruit pavlova.  It was simple – with baked meringue points that were in the shape of a sunflower with passion fruit curd in the middle and fresh passion fruit on top to complete the sunflower image. The delicate sour flavor and lightly velvety curd was amazing combined with the crispy sweet meringue was perfect.  Not overly complicated just simple, clean, fresh, and light.

Dr. Joshua Seery

This is easy…while in Orlando with the Student Leaders for the NCSL conference, President Liberatoscioli also found himself in Orlando visiting family and had invited me to attend dinner with him at the world-renowned Victoria & Albert’s. I had heard so much about it from Dean Morrow and many management students who had attended, and had never thought I would have the opportunity to dine there! The experience was over the top between the multiple course meal, the plate presentations, the attention to detail of the waiter (s), trying caviar for the first time, and of course the stories from our very own President L. along with learning so much about so many things…this was my most memorable meal.

Professor Akita Brooks

Watching my mother make macaroni and cheese for Christmas.  It’s the best!  Cheesy, gooey, and buttery…no crunchiness!

Mr. Philippe Mcartney

Happy Rooster on Samson Street a long while ago. At that time, “Doc” Ulitsky, owned the restaurant and ran it as sort of a “Men’s’ club”. He had strict etiquette rules. At the bar, I ordered a small (one ounce) jar of Beluga caviar. It was placed on a bowl of crushed ice. The serving utensil was a mother-of-pearl spoon. The caviar was served with toast points, grated hard-boiled eggs, capers, and chives. The caviar was accompanied by a small glass of chilled Russian Vodka. I don’t want to date myself but I do remember that the cost was $30 (not including the vodka).  Try to get Beluga caviar, these days, at this price, incredible! It was a perfect afternoon. 

Dr. David Morrow

I have been blessed to travel with our graduating Bachelor Degree students for many years as we explore the hospitality offerings of the United Kingdom. One year I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in London between groups of students. I invited my son, Alex, to join me for a couple nights. 

As a part of our STC to England, students visit the famed Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. I have become close with many of the team members at Ramsay’s and wanted my son to experience this style of dining, so I made a reservation and we embarked on the experience of the Menu Prestige. 

We were greeted by many staff members as we sat and enjoyed a glass of champagne. As the meal began, Jean-Claude Breton, the Maitre D’ of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay’s since its inception, visited our table and, as is customary, engaged in friendly banter while explaining the meal and asking about dietary restrictions and adjustments we might want to make to the meal. 

He directed his comment to my son, Alex, 17 at the time. ‘Alec,’ his thick French accent caused the eloquent change in pronunciation of his name…’Alec, will you be having the meal as prepared by the chef or can we make some changes for you.’ I interjected quickly to suggest that he may want something other than the Foie Gras but was promptly interrupted by my son as he said to Monsieur Breton, ‘I trust the Chef.’

In more ways than one, this was my finest moment in a dining room. When it came to food, my work was done as a father as I have taught my son that if you trust the chef, he or she will make anything taste great! 

Mr. Jon Sauerwald

Laurel on Passyunk Ave–the Chef’s Table in the back courtyard is on of the best-kept secrets in the city.

President Danny Liberatosciloli

About 15 years ago I was traveling in France with our students. The tour was being co-hosted by one of our chefs, Claude Pottier. Chef Pottier was born, raised, and began his successful career in France. As we were making plans for a special lunch while in Paris Chef Pottier had a suggestion; have lunch at his mother’s home in Paris. Of course I said YES! I bought Madame Pottier some flowers and wine. She was a charming and gracious lady “of a certain age” as the French say (AKA a senior citizen – I would guess she was in her late 80s). 

She invited me to sit in her living room. She offered me an aperitif and some canapés. I could hear her working hard in her kitchen. I offered to help but she politely declined. I felt so relaxed.

It was time for lunch – “a la table”. I took a seat and marveled at the platters of charcuterie. There were at least five different pates and terrines. The garnishes included cornichons, pickled onions and whole grain mustard. It turns out that Madame Pottier’s family owns a charcuterie and supplied these specialties.

I ate with abandon. Then, I am surprised by a “fish course”. A warmed mousse of scallops with lobster meat. It was like velvet. 

But there is more. Without a doubt the most perfect roast chicken I have ever had. It was presented whole, on a carving board. Crisp skin that crackled as Chef Pottier carved it. The au jus gravy was expert. 

To make this chicken even more incredible she served us a bowl of just-cooked fresh spinach. And then I was taken by complete joy: a bowl filled with chestnuts that were steamed and then warmed, redolent of French butter. The bowl was probably at least two pounds of perfectly peeled chestnuts. I kept apologizing as the ate the chestnuts without stopping.

We then leaned back, satiated by this incredible course. And then – cheese. No surprise we are in France. The cheese was served exactly as it was meant to be; at room temperature with crisp baguettes. The wine continued to flow. I looked up and realized that Madame Pottier was truly keeping up with us. Even though she was a tiny, demure lady she ate and drank wine with the same relentless spirit as we did.

Dessert brought a lovely warm apple tart with a crisp buttery crust and glazed apple slices. Afterward the most fragrant coffee served with cookies and chocolates.

This was, without t a doubt, one of the most memorable experiences.

Mr. Dennis Liberati

Making a giant cake for my dad’s 90th Birthday party. For over 30 years, my dad would talk about his favorite “Coconut Cake,” which he could not get anywhere to his liking. So for his 90th birthday, I made an 18-inch-wide – 9-inch-high coconut cake that he really loved and enjoyed. While my background was in cooking not baking, I was super proud. And my dad – who was very hard to please- was pleased. 

Mrs. Peggy Liberatoscioli

Steak Diane and Cherries Jubilee in Florida.

Mr. Ed Pilch

Gnocchi with meat sauce at Tre Famiglia Restaurant in Haddonfield, NJ.  Just like Grammie used to make!

Ms. Bethany Amilkavich

A few years ago, my friend and I celebrated our birthdays together at Di Brunos’ After Hour at their Italian Market shop.  It was an amazing experience to have the store ourselves with all our friends.  Their staff members who prepared a wonderful array of plates for us, and then allowed us to sample anything we wanted in the store were gracious, easygoing, and fun.  It was unconventional, as far as “meals” go, but it is definitely one that  I won’t ever forget

Ms. Valery Snisarenko

Last year, I checked off a box on my bucket list and finally made it to Vietnam. The street-food scene is a bit intimidating at first, but after a few suggestions, we got the hang of where to find the hidden gems. A local guide helped us wander the back alleyways where tourists are rarely seen, and boy was that a treat! My favorite was a dish called the Bo La Lot (thịt  nướng lá lốt), which is beef wrapped in wild betel leaf. The smell of the betel leaf was unique and something I’ve never tried before and the combination was truly memorable. The best part of Vietnamese street food is that each vendor specializes in just one dish, a dish that they have perfected over many years and take a lot of pride in serving. I still remember the smells of hot broth in the mornings, fish sauce in the afternoons, and the sizzle of perfectly charred pork in the evenings. I would go back in a heartbeat. 

Mrs. Meghan Bloome

Dinner at Vetri Cucina a few years ago when we had an onion crepe with perfectly caramelized onions inside a crispy-on-the-outside crepe, served with a creamy sauce.

Mrs. Roseanne Carmolingo

The most memorable meal was many many years ago at the Princess Hotel in Acapulco. The restaurant was Chula Vista and we ate Al Fresco. Delicious food and amazing atmosphere. 

Mrs. Azure Elentrio

My most memorable food moment would be as a child I remember my Grandmother making a cake for Easter that looked like a lamb. I just thought she was the coolest Grandma at that moment. For some reason, that moment still stands out 

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There you have it, folks! I hope you enjoyed hearing from our chefs, faculty, and staff about their favorite food moments. Have a favorite memory to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Just email us and let us know – you may be featured in an upcoming newsletter, blog post, or social media post.


Most Memorable Moment of Hospitality

Walnut Hill College Faculty Tell Us About Their Most Memorable “Moment of Hospitality”

At Walnut Hill College, we not only teach hospitality studies, but it’s also one of our core values and something we take very seriously. In fact, one of the fundamental rules that ALL WHC must adhere to and truly embody is the “10-4” rule. What’s that? Glad you asked! We believe that everyone at the college has 10 seconds and 4 feet to make a real difference. Let me explain…

If you are walking down a hallway (or the street) and see a piece of paper on the floor that’s in plain view (4 feet), pick it up and throw it out. See a guest, colleague, or fellow classmate walking past you? Say “hello” and smile – it takes less than 10 seconds of your time! All of us are capable of making a difference just by practicing the simple notion of hospitality. We can all be responsible for creating true “moments of hospitality” just by being aware, present, and willing!

With that, we asked our WHC chefs, faculty, and staff to recall their favorite or most impressive moment of hospitality. Here are their answers!

Chef Chris Ferretti

My most impressive moment was at an event for the Sikorsky Helicopter Corporation at the Helipad in New York City.  I was part of a team that was responsible for producing an event at a helipad instead of a restaurant and for that, the host was very appreciative and thanked me by arranging a Sikorsky helicopter ride around Manhattan.  I asked her if she could extend this to my fellow workers at the event, and she did!   The first time I ever rode in a helicopter, and it was on a special night when New York City seemed extra beautiful from above.

Chef Todd Braley

Many years ago, I went to Boston’s No. 9 Park, which was considered the standard for fine dining in Boston and where Barbara Lynch was the Chef in charge of presenting upscale Frenc and Italian cuisine. At the time, I was Chef de Cusine of Copper Bistro in Northern Liberties. While seating us, the maître d’ mentioned that he had “taken the liberty of looking me up” and had actually eaten at the restaurant where I worked, he was from New Jersey. Lucky me! What followed was a 7-course tasting menu with additions like “when Julia Child had this she preferred the Demi-sec Champagne so we have given you both pairings for you to decide.” It was a four and a half-hour meal of complete joy.

Chef Jackie Lovecchico

My most memorable moment of hospitality was when I was catering a wedding for about 120 people on top of the Rocky Mountains. A beautiful windstorm came through while the ceremony was going on about 200 yards away, out of sight, as we were finishing set-up. The entire tent flew away, tables and chairs tossed around, glassware, linens, floral arrangements, everything… broken glass and china everywhere. Several of us were actually dangling from the tent while it was toppling over, trying to secure it down. It was a disaster.  Thankfully, we convinced the photographer to take an extensive amount of time with pictures, and we were able to clean up and scrounge up enough of everything – and the bridal party had no idea what happened! This is why you ALWAYS bring backups – and backups for your backups! You never know when it all might just literally, blow away. 

Chef Gerald Gord

My wife and I took a “wine trip” to Napa Valley, California, and stayed at the Victorian Inn on the Sutter Home winery.  It was exceptional! They treated us as if we were special guests in their home.

Chef Greg Slonaker

Achieving the 5th diamond at the Rittenhouse hotel

Chef Jose Adorno

Lunch at 11 Madison Park in New York City. What an experience!

Chef Eric Paraskevas

A few years ago, my wife and I went to Greece where we got to vacation for two weeks. Part of our time was spent on the Isle of Crete in a little village called Apoini. There, we met a lot of locals who treated us as if we had been lifelong friends. One local, in particular, was a local olive grove tender. He showed us the grounds on which his family had been growing olives for decades. As he give us the tour of his facility his also showed us how he acts as a grape processor for the surrounding population. Then, he proceeded to show us how to produce Raki, a bootleg fermented wine liquor, which is apparently illegal. I found the whole process fascinating, and his openness and the way in which he welcomed us into his life has truly inspired me to work on being even more hospitable in my own life.

Chef Christina Pirello

Most memorable moment? When a Chef ran to the store to buy gluten free pasta for a dear friend of mine while we were dining at their restaurant.

Chef Kate Honeyman

One true moment of hospitality that I experienced was at a hotel in Antigua. I had won a trip and was staying in a place called Jumby Bay. I was truly blown away by all of the little details that they paid attention to. Whether it was the little pictures left on the bed each night or the way we were addressed by name at dinner each night. The warmth and comfort felt with every interaction, were the moments that made me feel most at home.  

Chef Marie Stecher

Years ago, on a trip to California, I had lunch at The French Laundry.  The food, of course, was amazing.  But, it was the service, that also made it extra special.   Our waiter’s attention to detail, made us all feel extremely welcomed.  Like, selecting the perfect ½ bottles of wine to go with our meal and our budget.   Especially, when the waiter brought me a birthday plate (he thought that was why my friends and I were toasting each other). It was a few weeks away, but my friend and I were actually toasting to the fact that I snagged this reservation!  I also remember that after our meal the general manager gave us a tour of their beautiful herb garden. It was truly special.

Chef John Gallagher

In my opinion, moments of hospitality should be something that you see and experience every single day. It’s called being human! On a recent France trip, we were on a tour where we had to stand outside and sadly, it was pouring rain that day. There was a young lady on the trip who I noticed was wearing, what was probably her best outfit, and she looked so sad because it was pouring buckets. So, I gave her my umbrella! The students said it was a very nice thing to do. I said no, I’m just being a Dad!

Chef Derek Andress

Recently, my wife and I went on an anniversary getaway to Havana, Cuba.  It was such an amazing trip on so many levels; education, food, culture, sights, as well as a time for reflection and connection. We stayed at an AirBnB apartment owned by a local woman who rented us the entire 2 story apartment. Yune, was a lovely Cuban woman who was a little younger than us and spoke decent English. In fact, it was much, much, much better than my Spanish!  It felt like she was our housekeeper, breakfast chef, concierge, and guardian angel all in one.  Every day, she would come over and make us the best breakfast no matter how early or late we needed it (based on our activities for the day). She gave us genuine advice and help with regard to transportation, things to eat, try or not try, sharing with us local customs, foods, and ingredients.  She would stop and buy things and make them for us because she could tell we were really into the food and culture. And, more importantly, she realized that we didn’t have access to the same resources or would even know where to begin on our own. I know that if she hadn’t been there for us smiling and helping us every day, we would have missed out on parts of, what is probably, the best vacation we have ever taken together.

Dr. Joshua Seery

Victoria & Albert’s was the most memorable hospitality experience for me because of the personalization of my name and the Walnut Hill College logo on our very own menu was just so intimate and special.

Professor Akita Brooks

While dining at Victoria & Albert’s in Florida, I had a cold.  The server brought me a box of tissues on top of a floor cushion, with a small bag for the discarded ones.  They think of every unexpressed need and want!

Mr. Philippe Mcartney

I like to frequent restaurants owned by our Walnut Hill College graduates. A couple of years ago, I went to Helm, in Kensington. The restaurant  is owned by Michael Griffiths, a graduate. It is a BYOB and uncharacteristically, I did not have a bottle of wine with me. As I was getting up from the table to find a local wine store to buy a bottle of wine, Chef Michael, hearing of this, told me to sit back down. He then went to his kitchen and brought us a California Chardonnay that he was planning to bring home for his family. Not only was the wine a great pairing with his main course (roasted Halibut) but he didn’t mention or ask for anything in return.  I’ve been a fan of his since and have gone and continue to patronize all of his restaurants. Of course, I went back later, with a bottle of wine, to return the kindness.

Dr. David Morrow

I have experienced so many wonderful moments of hospitality in my life it makes it nearly impossible to select just one. I suppose it is not a surprise that the one I select comes, again, from the college’s Hospitality Tour of England. Many years ago we would take students by Buckingham Palace so they could take photos of the palace and see it in all its splendor. One year we decided to ask our Trustee, Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Oliver St. Clair Franklin, OBE, if he thought he might be able to get our students a tour of the Palace. He obliged and we have been going ever since to visit the State Rooms, the Halls, and, of course, the kitchen. 

Perhaps that would be enough to rank as my greatest moment of hospitality, but it isn’t. You see, the very first time we visited the Palace, no one, not even the Palace security, knew what to make of it. It simply does not happen. Groups do not tour the Palace, especially the back of the house. It’s never happened. Yes, a portion of the Palace is open during a couple of months in late summer for the public to visit. But this was in June and we were visiting as a group, not to see the areas the public can see, but to talk with the Master of the Household, perhaps the most prestigious Hospitality Management position in the world, and the Executive Chef. In the kitchen…at Buckingham Palace. 

Yes, this would be an amazing moment for anyone. However, if this had such meaning to me and our students, imagine what it would mean to a citizen of the UK. Our coach driver that year, Neil, still someone I call a friend to this day, was that lucky citizen. He had the honor of driving his coach through the front gates of Buckingham Palace, for all to see! His eyes were glowing as he eased the Richmond’s coach through the deep black cast iron gates topped with gold. He pulled in and was asked to park in the courtyard directly in front of the Palace.

Two security guards boarded the coach, not the ones in the dress reds with the tall black hats. Two guards in full combat gear with weapons at the ready. They inspected the bus and passport of every person on board. The then spoke directly to Neil, who was not going to join us on the tour, although we tried. They directed him to pull the coach into the inner courtyard so it no longer blocked the view of those there to see the Palace. 

A deeply concerned look came across Neil’s face. You see, to get to the inner courtyard, he had to literally pull the coach through the Palace walls. An entryway perhaps 20 feet in length, but only wide enough for the coach to have an inch or two on either side to the mirrors. A tight fit would be an understatement. 

Imagine for a moment that you are asked to pull a full sized bus between the walls of the White House while your hands are trembling and your heat is pounding. The slightest mistake on either side would damage the coach…and, by the way, the most important landmark in the United Kingdom! He took a breath, which I am not sure he released until he was on the other side of the walls, and eased the coach through. Not a scratch! 

But again, still not the greatest moment in hospitality. No, that was delivered by jointly Walnut Hill College President, Daniel Liberatoscioli, and the Master of the Household of Buckingham Palace at the time, whose name escapes me. You see, as I mentioned earlier, we could not accommodate Neil, our driver, to join us on our tour of the Palace. Having seen the look on his face, the excitement in his eyes of just being inside the interior walls of the Palace, President Liberatoscioli and I could not help but think, what if we asked? What’s the worst that could happen? 

We were greeted kindly by our hosts and the Master, as is customary, shook the hands of each and every one of his guests, our students. Once the introductions were concluded, President Liberatoscioli took the opportunity to ask, kindly and appropriately, if they would consider having our coach driver join us. Neil had no idea this was about to happen. Ever so politely, following a simple and appropriate pause, the Master of the Household stated, ‘I think that would be delightful.’ 

Neil grabbed his blazer, one I’m not certain he wore that often but had on the coach as a part of his uniform when it warranted, smiled from ear to ear, shook the hand of his hosts and joined us for what was likely one of the most memorable moments of his life. 

Hospitality is not about you. Hospitality is about others. Leaders in this field are known as Servant Leaders and some confuse what the word ‘Servant’ means thinking that it is a demeaning turn of phrase. It is not. To me, it is the most honorable of all leaders as your goal is to care for others, not yourself. 

Mr. Jon Sauerwald

My favorite hospitality experience was at Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia. The approach is established in fine dining, but with a slightly more casual style.  The service is impeccable and every want from the guest is anticipated. That is true hospitality!

President Danny Liberatosciloli

I was traveling to Marrakesh with my dear friend Chef McManus and her daughter Talya. I had heard of the legend of one of the world’s most incredible hotels and resorts – La Mamounia and I arranged for us to stay at this special place. 

As the taxi drove up to this paradise, attendants approached the car. Each of them opened the doors and immediately took even the smallest of bags from us. We passed through a literal tropical garden of palm trees and flowering orange trees; the air redolent of beautiful fruit. At the impressive golden entrance four attendants dressed in floor-length white velvet capes opened the doors in perfect synchronicity. We entered this palace. Two gracious ladies were standing by the door somehow knowing we were approaching. They pronounced my name perfectly – which only six people in the world can do. I asked for the “reception desk”. They said “please follow us”. 

We were brought to a type of indoor tent with long purple fabric. We sat on cushions around a low brass table. They brought a huge platter of dates and glasses of almond milk. Then, the Executive Director of the hotel joined us to discuss everything that his amazing organization will do for us during our exotic vacation in Morocco. La Mamounia had hospitality defined to perfection. 

Mr. Dennis Liberati

My favorite hospitality moment is dining at Le Bec-Fin for the very first time. The restaurant, owned by renewed Chef Georges Perrier, was once considered the “Best French Restaurant in the United States.” Needless to say, the service was flawless and the food, exquisite.

The attention to every bit and small detail was incredible. When leaving the restaurant, I turned to my friends and said that this experience truly evokes memories.

Mr. Ed Pilch

The phenomenal level of service at Victoria & Albert’s in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World. 

Ms. Bethany Amilkavich

This was such a hard question to answer, made me realize I am very lucky to have had some many good experiences!

When I studied abroad in Rome during college, one of my favorite meals I had was with a friend at a small hole in the wall restaurant late on a weekday night.  I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, or a lot of about the food we ate, but I remember the proprietor, who was also our server.  It is easy to feel on guard in a foreign country, especially when you don’t know the language, but he made us feel welcome and comfortable, even as we stumbled over the language barrier.  He joked with us, helped us with our Italian, and even taught us the “right” way to have coffee after dinner (Cappuccino is for mornings!  You want espresso!).  I had a lot of good experiences in Italy, but this one was my favorite and has really stuck with me.  I think hospitality really stands out the most when you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, and someone is able to make you forget that and feel at home! 

Ms. Valery Snisarenko

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of chaperoning the WHC Tour of France with the culinary and pastry arts students. The entire trip was truly spectacular. I got to visit places, farms, restaurants, and regions that I would never have known about if I was traveling on my own. The hospitality we received during the entire trip was outstanding, however one moment stands out in my memory. We went to La Cremaiilere for an evening of traditional French cuisine in the town of Auxey-Duress. During dinner, the proprietor, Michael Prunier, started singing “Bon Bourguignon” and soon enough, everyone joined in – including Chef Esther McManus, who was a fellow chaperone. We raised our napkins in the air, waved them around and cheered them on as they performed a cheerful duet. It was an exciting moment of solidarity, camaraderie, and true hospitality. 

Mrs. Roseanne Carmolingo

My most impressive moment of hospitality has to be Commanders Palace in New Orleans. It was amazing! The table had a blue table runner to represent that it was a VIP table and the service was exceptional. I really like royalty!

Mrs. Azure Elentrio

My most impressive moment of hospitality is when I went on my honeymoon to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. The staff at the resort we were staying at thought about every little detail. We never had to ask for anything! Our concierge and all the staff checked on us all day long, even if we were on the beach or walking around the property. 

There you have it, folks! Hope you enjoyed hearing from our chefs, faculty, and staff about their favorite moments of hospitality. Have a favorite memory to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Just email us and let us know – you may be featured in an upcoming newsletter, blog post, or social media post.


How To Succeed At Remote Learning

Tips and Advice From an Experienced Remote Learner

Greetings Walnut Hill College!

With an unprecedented move to remote learning, many of us have been challenged to adjust to nontraditional classrooms and with that, we’ve had to adjust our approach to the way we learn. I’m here to tell you that I understand your challenges. I have personally completed two different programs remotely; my Master’s and Doctorate programs. With that, I figured that I was a good resource for reference and advice. So, here I am to share tips and advice that can help you succeed in your current courses at Walnut Hill College!

My TOP 5 TIPS

#1 – The Notion That Remote Classes are “Easier” is a MYTH

Unfortunately, the notion that remote learning is in some way easier is a misconception. Remote learning requires a certain level of discipline and self-learning that may exceed the requirements of on-campus class sessions. More than ever, you need to complete assigned readings, review PowerPoints, and watch a number of demo videos prior to class.

In addition, getting organized and prepping for a remote class session is vital (and sometimes exhausting!). You have to make sure to have your notebook open, your favorite pen, get that PowerPoint ready, have questions prepared, and set yourself up for success!

#2 – Dedicate Your Workspace

Unfortunately, your bed is not the best workspace for your zoom session, nor is it the ideal space to write that paper. Speaking of unsuitable locations, neither is your couch, dinner table, or back porch.

My tip is to create a desk area that is ONLY used for attending class and for completing classwork.

Our brains are wired to make associations and reward us when we stick to a routine. If you don’t select and stick to a proper location, your brain may go into sleep mode in your bed, tv mode on your couch, or food mode at your dinner table. However, if you choose wisely, your brain will recognize when you’re at a dedicated workspace and will have an easier time focusing so you can earn that 100% on your next quiz.

#3 – Participate in Your Classes and Engage with Your Classmates.

Whether on campus, via zoom, or even Schoology, participating in class sessions is vital. “Why,” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Engaging in conversation and participating on the discussion board increases recall of information and your ultimate academic success! 

So, participate, participate, and participate!

Don’t forget to engage with your classmates! Sometimes the support we need is a classmate who can explain an assignment in a way that helps you understand it better. They may have a unique perspective and offer a new way of looking at a topic. Support each other and succeed together!

#4 – Make Sure to Self-Advocate

When completing classes remotely, students have to find their voice and self-advocate. More than ever, it’s imperative that you raise your virtual hand and get the information and support they need to be successful.

What does that look like?

First, you must communicate with your instructors and academic team (Deans, Student Success Advisors, and Librarian) on a consistent or as-needed basis. Second, don’t be shy to ask for clarification on assignments; ask follow-up questions on course materials, and communicate your concerns. 

Do not hesitate to contact the appropriate staff members when you need help! If you do not know who to contact, contact a Dean or Student Success Advisor and we can direct you to the appropriate staff member.

#5 – Build a Routine

To succeed in almost anything, you need discipline! The same goes for schoolwork. A good tip is to schedule specific days and times for each course. You can schedule days to complete assignments, study for an upcoming quiz, and work on a timely project. For example, on Mondays set aside time between 10 am to 12pm to concentrate on Math; Tuesdays from 6 to 8 pm can be for English, and so on. Again, our brains work better when we stick to a routine and focus on a single topic at a time.

Another tip is to work in 15-minute increments. Human brains can only focus on a single task up to 15 minutes before we need a reset. So, take a walk around your house and come back and hit another 15-minute study session.

Quick Recap

#1 The myth of remote classes being “easier” is a misconception. Discipline, organization, and being prepared is key to your success.

#2 Your workspace. Set up a desk area that is only for attending your class sessions and completing coursework.

#3 Participating in your classes and engaging your classmates will support your recall of information and increase understanding.

#4 Self-advocate. Support yourself and reach out to WHC staff when you have questions, concerns, and/or need clarification on assignments.

And finally,

#5 Build a routine. Schedule specific days and times for specific classes which will increase your discipline and ability to stay focused.

I hope that these quick tips on how to succeed in your remote classes have been helpful and result in a better experience. And, as always remember that your instructors, your academic team, and the staff at Walnut Hill College are here to support you!

Until we can see all of you on campus again, this is Dr. Seery signing off and remember…

YOU GOT THIS!

– Dr. Seery, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning


Tips From A Food Stylist

Philly-based writer, food stylist, and current WHC student answers your pressing questions about food photography.

Taking photos of your food seems easy enough, right? You point your fancy phone and snap away, sometimes, you even use fancy filters. But, do your photos look like the ones shown above? My guess is that you’ve used every filter available, but still can’t get that perfect photo. We’re here to help!

I’ve teamed up with Lisa Hecht, a Philly-based writer, food stylist, and current Walnut Hill College Culinary student, to answer some basic questions regarding the fundamentals of composition, lighting, prop selection, and what you can do to get your photos to look like they came from the pages of Bon Appétit magazine.

( All photo credit to Lisa Hecht who we featured in last week’s Feel-Good Friday Newsletter)

What are the best props to use for food styling? Give us your TOP 5:

Props are an essential part of food styling, they need to elevate and complement the food you are shooting. The props that I use for photoshoots aren’t necessarily things that I use in my kitchen every day.

To start you need a background to shoot on. Most of us might take photographs on our kitchen counters or at the table we are eating at, but space and lighting can be a big issue in this scenario. Ideally, you want a surface that can be moved around like a cutting board or a piece of marble.

At Replica Surfaces, they sell boards that mimic surfaces like wood, tile, and stone that can be used as backdrops. Until you are ready to make this investment, I would just look for things you have around the house. Currently, these are my favorite props to use for food styling.

My TOP 5 Food Styling Props:

  1. An old wooden crate that I found at a flea market
  2. Walnut cutting board
  3. Dish towels – different colors, patterns, and textures
  4. Vintage flatware, including my set of wood and brass cutlery
  5. Small plates and bowls with simple designs and shapes

Why are “composition” and “framing” so important?

How to compose a great photograph is extremely important because it tells the viewer what to focus on in the image. Keep in mind that your subject does not always have to been in the center of your frame. You might spend a lot of time styling your shoot, but you still need to consider what angle you want to shoot from. Some things to consider when composing a photograph are how the viewers eyes are going to move around the image.

To start you want to have a contrast between the subject and the background. Also think about pattern, symmetry, and repetition. Consider how diagonal or directional lines can lead you into the picture and how framing devices such as trays or plates can help outline your subject. Most importantly, spend time looking at other people’s photographs and try to mimic what they do. Pinterest is a great source for professional food photography. 

What’s the best lighting to use for that perfect photo?

Without a doubt, natural light is the best light for food photography. I try to do most of my shoots by the window in my living room where I have a nice stream of natural light coming through. When I shoot in places like my kitchen or dining room, the overhead lights often create a glare or strong reflections on the food and props which I don’t like. 

Filters – Yes or No?

If shooting with your phone, then absolutely yes! You should always edit the photos you take. This might mean using the contrast and brightness tools on your phone or using one of the built-in filters. Consider if you want the image to look warm or cool. Do you want the color in the image to be highly saturated or naturalistic? Find the aesthetic that works for you. 

Does the equipment matter?

Yes, it does. Ideally, if you plan to go into this profession, you will be shooting with a DSLR camera with a 50 mm lens and probably have a macro lens for close-up shots. If you are shooting with your smartphone, then the quality of your phone still matters. I’m currently shooting with an Apple iPhone 6 Plus but when I see images being shot with an iPhone 11, I can see the difference in quality right away. 

Best Apps for photo editing?

Most professional photographers I know use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to edit their photos. 

Is all food photogenic or are there some foods to avoid?

Not all food is photogenic but there are always ways that you can make it look better. Think about if you had to photograph a bowl of oatmeal. It is mushy, has little contrast, and looks bland. However, if you topped it with fresh berries, chopped nuts, maple syrup, and sprinkled cinnamon on top, then that boring bowl of oatmeal just became a lot more appetizing. Adding garnishes is a way to add color and texture to what could possibly be an unappealing dish. 

Should I have a separate account for my food photography?

If you plan to use your Instagram account as a portfolio for your food photography, then having a separate account will depend on what kind of photos you normally like to post. I currently use my personal account to post all my food photos. This means that if I apply for a food styling job, I feel comfortable sharing my handle with a future employer. However, if my page focused more on images of my personal life and family, then I would absolutely have a separate account. 

So, there you have it folks – real advice from a real-world food stylist. Do yourselves a favor and check out Lisa’s Instagram account where she shares some truly inspiring food photography.


Fungi are My Favorite: Spaghetti al Funghi Recipe

Hey, everyone! This week, I wanted to share something that I like to make at home on a fairly regular basis and a recipe to use it in. Mushrooms are one of my all-time favorite foods, and I think that they make a great substitute for meat. They’re packed full of protein, fiber, and an immune-boosting antioxidant called selenium. I love the flavor that each different type of mushroom has, and they’re all different! Some of my favorites include shimeji, morel, maitake, oyster, and enoki. When caramelized, they have an incredibly nutty and rich flavor that adds depth to any dish. They’re pretty much one of the best foods ever, spoken by a completely unbiased individual… 😉

I think that mushrooms are also beautiful to look at, and for this reason and a few others, I like them to be recognizable in a dish. I rarely cut mushrooms unless they are of the larger variety and cannot be torn. I always tear the mushrooms previously mentioned, and I always save the ends for stock and soup! Because mushrooms are so incredibly versatile, I really like to keep some already cooked off in my fridge for salads, pasta, or whatever we’ve got a hankering for. One of my favorite preparations for these fungi is to caramelize them in brown butter. They turn out to be incredible little flavor bombs that you can add to any dish. You could absolutely substitute out butter for a preferred cooking fat to get the same lovely color. This is as simple as cutting a few knobs of butter onto a sheet pan, browning the butter in the oven, and mixing your cut mushrooms with some salt for seasoning into the brown butter. Once they’re all coated, roast them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re well fragrant and golden brown.

One recipe that I’ve developed to use these in is my take on spaghetti ai funghi. Mushrooms that have been browned lend themselves nicely to a cream sauce or something that will push the rich flavor forward. The recipe is very simple, but in the video I have included, I used a red wine jus I made from chicken stock (not necessary, but it’s what I had). Using regular chicken stock works perfectly well for this recipe and is usually what I do. It is also perfectly fine in this recipe to brown the mushrooms in a pan first and then build your sauce from there.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ lb. enoki mushrooms
  • ¼ lb. shimeji mushrooms
  • ¼ lb. oyster mushrooms
  • 8 oz. dry spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Parsley (I toasted mine for a little texture)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg yolk

Procedure:

  • Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  • Prepare your mushrooms by tearing them apart.
  • Brown the butter in a sauté pan and add the mushrooms.
  • Once the mushrooms are tender and caramelized, deglaze with chicken stock.
  • Reduce the chicken stock down until it becomes syrupy and add the heavy cream.
  • Reduce the heavy cream until it just starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Cook your spaghetti to al dente and add to the cream sauce with a splash of pasta water.
  • Separate one egg, store the whites, and keep the yolk out.
  • Once the pasta is coated with sauce, season to taste with salt, cracked black pepper, and parsley.
  • Finish the dish while still hot by stirring in an egg yolk. (The residual heat cooks the yolk without turning it solid.)

When I first started making this recipe, I was in love. It’s a fairly simple dish to make and it tastes so luxurious. You really don’t need a lot of it to fill you up, and it has an outstanding roasted mushroom flavor. I like to go heavy on the cracked black pepper because it adds a nice spice to the very rich dish. I hope that this has inspired you to cook with mushrooms more and maybe even try them as a substitute in your favorite meat dish. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at just how flavorful they are! Thank you for reading and happy cooking!


Game Day BBQ Chicken Dip

Hey, everyone! This week’s blog post is the first collaboration post we’ve done on here! A fellow student leader, Meghan Young, wrote a piece that I think totally captures the idea of what this blog is all about. What better way to kick off a collaboration than with a gameday post? It’s always fun having people over to watch sports, whether it’s football, basketball, soccer, you name it! Once you’ve gotten everyone together, the question of what to eat and drink always arises. Planning can really elevate the gameday experience, and in this post, we’re going to share some recipes that are perfect for groups of people!

One recipe that I’ll often make at home is chicken dip. It is so incredibly easy to put together and is usually a hit once it’s done. Buffalo chicken dip is a classic, but I like to put my own twist on chicken dip. I recently discovered a barbeque sauce that goes beautifully with chicken and thought, why not make dip with this? Thus, my barbeque chicken dip was born. Something fun about this recipe is that you can really substitute in any favorite sauce for barbeque and it will work just as well. I find that sweeter sauce doesn’t work as well for this dip based solely on the fact that I don’t like my savory foods to be too sweet. There really aren’t a ton of ingredients in this dip, which makes it very user friendly.

Barbeque Chicken Dip Ready for Game Day Action!

Ingredients:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups barbeque sauce
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup spring onion

Procedure:

  • Shred rotisserie chicken with hands or forks.
  • Warm barbeque sauce in a pan, and add softened cream cheese and sour cream.
  • Mix in chicken and three fourths of the shredded cheese and spring onions.
  • Once combined, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Spoon into a 10-inch skillet, and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake in a low oven until heated through and bubbling.
  • *OPTIONAL* Broil on high until cheese gets bubbly and brown on top.
  • Garnish with remaining spring onions, and serve with chips.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Whenever it’s movie night or I know people will be coming over, I throw this together and it’s always a hit. Remember that you can really make any kind of chicken dip, and you should definitely experiment with flavors! Thank you for reading!


5 Best Food and Gin Pairings to Enjoy This Valentine’s Day

By Heidi Jones

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you may be wondering what to do to bring a smile on your other half’s face. Why not go for a meal? A romantic one. Pairing food with liquor has been always one of the most celebrated activities to honor this day. Today, people are matching food and gin to achieve a perfect combination and this is slowly gaining popularity in many countries. People are finding ways through which they can enjoy their favorite gin and tonic drinks with their best meals. You should, however, know that there are skills needed for you to achieve a perfect match. Just like wine and food pairings, you need to know the taste profiles of both the food and drink you are about to pair. That is so that you don’t end up ruining the taste or making it too harsh to drink. For starters, below is a list of the best gin and food pairings that should help you have an idea of what the pairing process is all about. All you have to do is to figure out which other foods can pair well with gin.

Image Source

McQueen Sweet Citrus Gin with Smoked Salmon

There is no better gin and food pairing than McQueen citrus gin with smoked salmon. First, if you have a look at the taste profile of McQueen gin, from a glance, you will see citrus written all over it. The drink contains kaffir lime, grapefruit, and lemongrass. As expected, lemongrass dominates the drink’s taste and so be ready for a little bit of savory feel on the tongue. The sweetness of the gin pairs well with the lime taste to bring forth an incredible flavor. What better would it be to enjoy this pairing on your first date?

The idea that salmon tastes slightly different from other fish makes it a perfect candidate for this type of pairing. You should, however, focus more on the spices. To make an excellent match, make sure that the salmon is not too spiced. That is going to give you a hard time consuming the dish. Ensure you use few spices and salt it a little. That way, it will blend nicely with the McQueen sweet citrus gin. This pairing is definitely going to light up your partner’s mood.

Tandoori Scallops with Tanqueray

The taste profile of tandoori scallops depends on the spices you use. In most cases, you will find the dish having a spicy palate. That means coming up with a perfect pairing will give you a challenge, especially if you are a starter. But worry not, with patience you will be able to achieve an incredible match that will see people smack their lips. To build up the taste just enough to make it better and not unbearable, try pairing your tandoori scallops with a glass of Tanqueray. So sit back and relish on this amazing combination with your valentine.

It is among the ultimate gin and food pairings that go well together. That is because of the spicy flavor of tandoori scallops will complement the sharp lemon as well as the orange marmalade. The spices of both tandoori scallops and Sipsmith dry gin harmonious to achieve a great taste. You get to enjoy a spicy finish that will leave you completely refreshed. It is a pairing that anyone who loves spicy foods will adore.

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Crispy Chicken Wings with Plymouth Dry Gin

Everybody loves chicken wings, but not everybody can pair them with the right gin. Chicken wings that come with a crispy feel and some bit of spice are easy to pair. What you have to do is contrast the crispiness and the spicy flavor, and you will have yourself one of the best matches. Your number one choice when it comes to pairing chicken wings with gin should be Plymouth Dry Gin.

The drink comes with incredible notes, and pairs well with crispy chicken wings. At first, the gin is soft and incredible. You can then feel a buildup of cardamom, sweet orange, juniper, and lemon zest. It then finishes up with delicate citrus and mild earthy taste. Those are the things that make the two best gin and food pairing options. The sweet taste will contrast the spiciness of the fish, and the citrus will add a savory flavor from afar. No doubt, it is one of those experiences that a couple must give a shot.

Meatballs with Beefeater 24

Meatballs prepared with honey tends to have a sweet taste that leaves you yearning for more. One thing that you should be sure of is that the sweetness will mask the spices, and that is why pairing sometimes, is not as easy as it seems. But then, you can consider Beefeater 24 as the gin to use for this kind of pairing or something much more savory with a tinge of sweetness like beefeater 24.

The combination will see the tastes of licorice roots and citrus blend well with the sweetness of the meatballs. You thus end up getting a harmonious finish that is not only incredible but delectable. You can also pair it with Courvoisier to end up with a much better taste. In most cases, the best way to match a sweet dish is to pick something savory or bitter.

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Spiced Roast Beef with Monkey 47

Juicy and spicy roast beef is one of the best barbecues that you can ever ask for. The spices make it incredibly delicious, and smearing a bit of citrus juice can make it even much better. But then, how do you end up pairing such a dish without ruining the delectable flavor? The only way to avoid making the spice too intense for your palate is to contrast it with a gin like Monkey 47.

The gin comes with great flavors and floral notes. It features sweet licorice, cardamom, juicy lingonberry, and Jupiter. The sweetness of licorice is going to cut through the spices and balance them incredibly well. The citrus hint will then complement the citrus juice to make the taste much bearable. The combination ensures the flavors blend and unleashes a refreshing feel that is great for your tongue. What will impress you is how the meal will turn out to be impressive.

Image Source

These are some of the best pairings that you can achieve without fear of ruining the taste of the dish and the flavor of the gin. The combinations depend on two primary aspects, and that is they either complement each other or contrast each other to come up with a delightful feel and delectable finish. Whichever combination you make, make sure you analyze the flavor profiles of both the gin and the main dish so that you end up with an excellent match.

References

http://www.ginandtonicjuly.com/food.html

https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2016/05/17/How-to-pair-gin-with-food

https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/articles/ginstronomy-how-to-pair-gin-with-food.amp


Pita Bread Persistence

Hey, everyone! This week, I wanted to share something that I have been making quite a lot of recently. Ever since I was younger, I have absolutely loved pita bread. Whether it’s stuffed full of falafel or dipped in hummus, I can’t get enough. Ever since I stumbled upon a great recipe developed by Paul Hollywood, I’ve been making it all the time! I make quite a lot of hummus at home, and it’s fantastic to have a scratch-made lunch of pita, hummus, and salad. I think that working with this recipe has taught me a lot about proving dough and the process of making flatbread. I also learned a lot from a friend of mine here at school, who is incredible at making Mediterranean food. I’m still trying to perfect my pita, but I’ve had a ton of fun with the process of making it and learning how to get the perfect pocket.

I have tried a few different ways of making pita bread, but I have definitely found that the oven works best. When first making pitas in class, I tried making them on the back of a very hot cast iron pan. I would flip them halfway through, and the results were pretty decent. However, the pitas were never evenly colored, even though they had nice pockets. After doing some research, I found that my only other option really was an oven. A deck oven would definitely be the best choice for this, but sadly, I don’t have one of those at home. To simulate this, however, I cranked my oven up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit and preheated my baking trays to somewhat mimic the effect of heat from the top and bottom evenly. As this is essentially the same as heat cleaning your oven, please make sure that your oven is already clean if you’re going to try this. Greasy ovens at a high heat billow smoke and smell horrible. This proved to work very well but needs constant monitoring, seeing as though the pitas bake very quickly. That being said, I still achieved some good pockets and nice color!

This was another one of those projects that felt good to work on and get better at. I tried making a preferment for my dough to get some extra flavor out of it, and I really liked the way it turned out. I find that homemade food tastes better and is much more rewarding if you have the time and patience. I always have fun making recipes like this, because it becomes part of a hearty meal later on. For the sake of people who would like to try making this pita recipe, I have included it here. I hope this has inspired some of you to go out there and bake! I’ve definitely caught the bug and am looking forward to more fun bakes. Thank you for reading!


Aquafaba Adventures

Hey, everyone! This week, I wanted to focus on a recipe that would help me with minimizing my waste. This is something that I have been interested in for a while, as I’m always learning new ways to use things people usually consider “waste”. I recently learned a very interesting way to use the chickpea water in canned chickpeas. For the longest time, I discarded this and thought nothing of it. As it goes, aquafaba, or chickpea water, makes a fantastic meringue and, furthermore, great meringue cookies! My first attempt at this was without a recipe and did not turn out well at all. My second attempt, however, turned out great, based on a recipe I found online. I was shocked at the stability of this meringue and the fact that it was so silky and fluffy! This would make a fantastic icing or base for a vegan sponge. I was ecstatic after making this recipe, and I couldn’t wait for my meringues to finish baking.

I’d also had an idea for a plated dessert that I wanted to make for my wife. I had some peach butter that I had jarred over the summer and some raspberries in my fridge, so I went out, bought some coconut whipped cream, and made my version of a vegan pavlova. I was thrilled with the outcome and would absolutely make it again! This was such an incredibly cool experience for me, and I learned a lot about vegan baking. I love the fact that I can use part of a product I would usually throw away to make something delicious and beautiful. This could not have been a better experience for me, and I will absolutely be using this more and more in my cooking. I hope that you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!


Giving thanks and giving back with Walnut Hill College Student Leaders

Two Walnut Hill College Student Leaders, Joshua Reilly and Meg Linck, prepare a pre-Thanksgiving meal at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, along with other members of the Student Leadership Development Institute. Photo credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer

On Tuesday, November 26, members of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute visited the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House to prepare a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for residents of the transplant house and their families. This was the 7th meal in a partnership between the College and the Transplant House, all in an effort to engage WHC students with members and organizations of the University City community in a meaningful way.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and we are happy to share their article, written by Mari A. Schaefer, both here and below:

Students at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for patients and families who were staying at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, where guests wait for or recover from an organ transplant.

The facility celebrated the holiday in the past with either a potluck or a catered meal, said Kirsten King, director of the 13-room guesthouse, located on 3940 Spruce St. In addition to doing all the cooking this year, the students sat with the guests to help celebrate, she said.

“They have been really enthusiastic collaborators,” said King. Residents of the Transplant House have been known to stay for as long as eight months during recovery, she said. So the homemade meal, which was funded with grants from Penn Medicine and the Transplant Institute, means a lot to them.

Added King, “We even asked them to make extra,” so that leftovers could be served on another night.

Video credit: Walnut Hill College Student Leader Steven Walsh

The Student Leadership Development Institute began a new partnership with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House on Spruce and 38th Streets about 14 months ago. If you are unfamiliar with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant house, the house is not a medical facility, but rather a small guest house designed to meet the unique needs of transplant patients and their families during a trying time in which they wait for a transplant to be approved.

Initially, Dr. Julia G. Lavenberg, who is a Research Analyst for the Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-Based Practice, reached out to me, along with the Manager of the Transplant House, Kirsten King, with an opportunity of a potential long-term partnership involving what we do best: providing exceptional hospitality and food. The overall idea was for Walnut Hill College and, more specifically, the Student Leaders to plan, prep, and provide delicious meals for the patients, families, and friends residing at the Transplant House on a monthly basis. Needless to say, this was a fantastic opportunity for the college to partner with a nearby university in the community and, specifically, for our Student Leaders and the Student Leadership Development Institute to be at the center of the partnership…and we said yes.

Since the partnership began, these Student Leaders have planned, prepped, and provided seven different meals to the families and patients of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, each meal with its own menu and its own theme. From garlic knots to focaccia, from Italian wedding soup to baked potato soup, and from snickerdoodles to berry pie, the patients, families, and friends of the Transplant House were treated to home-cooked meals and the incredible aromas that came with them.

Needless to say, I am extremely proud of this partnership and of our Student Leaders for delivering such an amazing experience to the guests of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, and we are beyond excited in continuing this partnership for years to come!

Written by Dr. Joshua Seery, Director of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute