Students looking to gain skills in the kitchen this semester need look no further than the Student Union. The new Pioneer Kitchen, a joint-venture between TWU and the university’s subcontractors that provide on-campus dining, Chartwells, just recently opened.
The Teaching Kitchen will regularly host one class a month in the Underground, though more may be organized upon request for special events. Each class invites 12 to 14 attendees to learn kitchen basics in a hands-on environment. Teaching sessions run from 15 minutes to an hour and focus on culinary fundamentals and practical tips that students can use within the confines of a dorm setting.
The operation offers instruction for all skill levels, servicing novices and confident cooks alike. Those new to working in the kitchen are likely to find themselves at ease, as potential hazards like flame and the use of sharp objects are monitored in a controlled setting. Aside from urging students not to be intimidated by the prospect of working with food, the instructors emphasize their efforts to provide a casual and supportive environment in the classes.
“Nobody should feel intimidated by it because we’re going to make it safe, but it’s still going to be fun,” Teaching Kitchen instructor and chef Aaron Austin said.
“If they’ve never touched food ever, this is the greatest time for them to come,” chef Kolton Braumley, another of the Kitchen’s instructors, said.
The Teaching Kitchen is partnering with the TWU Health and Wellbeing Initiative to focus on nutritious options as a part of the operation. With nutrition knowledge and student self-sufficiency being central to the Kitchen’s mission, its partnership with the HWBI is a logical step toward integration with campus health goals.
“I’ve been working with them and attending meetings,” TWU Director of Operations for Chartwells Shawna Bass said. “We’re partnering with the campus, and we’re excited to do that.”
The program will be evaluated throughout the coming months and may be expanded based on demand. Rolling classes will be an option if demand should exceed current class capacity, and the completion of campus construction will bring with it the prospect for even more growth.
“Once the new dining hall and catering kitchen opens, there’s an opportunity for it to expand into more than what it is right now,” Austin said.
Sessions are free, and a meal plan is not required to participate. Sign-up sheets will be available in the Underground approximately a week before Teaching events. The Kitchen will post pop-up classes and updates on social media, primarily on the initiative’s Instagram, _pioneerkitchen.