Parents’ recipes served in Berkeley

Most Berkeley College students probably envisioned another semester of dining hall spanakopita and General Tso’s Tofu, not their mom’s famous French yogurt cake.

But Berkeley asked students’ parents to submit favorite recipes, and starting last Thursday the dining hall will feature three dishes each week based on the responses. So far the reaction has been generally positive.

One of the first new dishes was the Italian sausage soup recommended by freshman Steve Schwartz’s family.

“It is actually one of my favorite dishes, period,” Schwartz said.

Participating students consulted with their parents and came up with dishes they thought were both tasty and possible to make in large quantities.

The idea for the program came from Cornelia Pearsall, the associate master of Berkeley and professor of English at Smith College in Massachusetts. A while back, Smith College dining halls began accepting recipes from its students for use in the dining hall and Pearsall expressed interest in starting a similar program at Yale.

The response to the request for recipes was tremendous. Berkeley Master John Rogers said almost 100 students — or rather, their parents — sent in recipes from home.

Tom Tropiano, one of the managers of Berkeley dining hall, said the residential colleges are there “so kids feel like they’re at home.” He added that the new program lets students feel even more comfortable in the college.

“The dining hall is the center of a college like the kitchen is the center of a person’s home,” Rogers said.

The dining hall managers and staff have displayed enthusiasm and excitement for the Recipes from Home program.

“It gives [the staff] an opportunity to utilize their skills,” Tropiano said.

The Berkeley dining hall makes food according to a four-week cycle, and the new program gives the staff a chance to break from this cycle and make something totally new.

“We are fortunate to have a really great dining hall staff,” Tropiano said. “They have all been very receptive to it.”

John Turenne, the executive chef on campus, said there have been no complaints from the dining hall staff.

Rogers said one of the benefits of the program is that it helps the dining hall figure out what students like to eat.

“This is a win-win situation for both the students and the staff,” Turenne said. “Students find it special to have something that they grew up with at home be showcased for others, and the dining hall staff enjoys a variety [of recipes to cook].”

Recipes from Home may be extended to other colleges in the future depending on the program’s success in Berkeley, Turenne said.

Ian Cheney ’02, whose family was responsible for the recipe for chocolate-chip pumpkin cake, said he is happy with the pilot program.

“My mom was very proud and excited to have her recipe for others to enjoy,” Cheney said.

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