Whether you are a true toast burner or just want to improve your cooking skills, C.H.E.F. (Creating Healthy Easy Food) cooking classes will step up your kitchen game. Oregon State University Housing and Dining Services offer C.H.E.F. to all undergraduate and graduate students. It is a four-week long cooking class that consists of two-hour sessions every Saturday. Offered once a term, each session builds on the next starting with simple knife skills and ending with the task of creating a dish of your choice.

This hands-on experience gives you the confidence and tools to make cooking fun and engaging. Lead by executive chef, Jay Perry, and assisted by nutritionist, Tara Sanders, you learn essential cooking techniques and explore new flavors while staying on a budget—talk about killing two birds with one stone.

cereal, pepper, herb, cumin
Sarina Raman

Session 1

I attended the C.H.E.F. cooking classes held during Winter term after setting off the fire alarm one too many times in the residence hall (yes, I was that girl). On the first day, all participants received a booklet with easy instructions, tips, and recipes to guide them during the course and beyond. After getting comfortable in the kitchen and performing basic knife cuts, we dove right in. We deconstructed the elements of flavor, and as a group, we made fresh basil pesto, a bold açai vinaigrette dressing, and practiced different vegetable cooking techniques such as roasting, grilling, and sautéing. 

Concluding the session, we shared the food we prepared and trained our palates. A lot of taste tests were conducted throughout the class, and Eco2Go containers were always available to take home the leftovers. The first session alone left me wanting more.

herb, vegetable
Allan Mai

Session 2 and 3

During session two, we focused on proteins. Chef Jay taught us how to safely handle and prepare chicken, beans and tofu. Combining the knowledge and skills we gained from the first session with proteins, we whipped up a flavorful garlic hummus, avocado Buddha bowl, and a simple protein and vegetable dish. By the end of session two, I was already feeling like a Michelin-starred chef.

During session three, we tackled grains and pasta. From pearled barley to white rice and quinoa, we learned how to prepare each grain both on the stove and wtih a rice cooker. In this session, I finally found out what "al dente" meant, which is an Italian term that translates as "to the tooth;" moreover, it refers to the desired texture of cooked pasta: firm and chewy. On this day, we made a delicious pasta with one protein and your choice of a pesto, alfredo, or tomato basil sauce.

Session 4

On the final day of the cooking class, I prepared misoyaki salmon with white rice and roasted vegetables for my "create your own dish." Although we did not learn how to prepare fish in the previous sessions, I just went for it. Using the skills and knowledge I acquired from Chef Jay throughout the class, I was able to pull it off. To my surprise, I did not trigger the fire alarm, and this was the first time I made something that tasted as good as it looked.

platter, vegetable, zucchini, courgette
Karley Devens

Food for Thought

My kitchen skills by the end of the fourth week exceeded my expectations. Now, I am able to prepare quick, easy, and tasty meals for myself as well as friends and family. Overall, I highly recommend signing up for the next C.H.E.F. cooking class, because you won't want to miss out.