Reality Bites serves seniors life lessons

With graduation quickly approaching, Yale Dining hopes to make the transition to life after college a little more palatable for the Class of 2014.

This month, Yale Dining is offering three workshops as part of an annual series called Reality Bites, which aims to educate outgoing seniors on living and eating in the real world. The kickoff event, “Etiquette and Wine Pairing,” took place on Tuesday evening in the President’s Room in Woolsey Hall, and students interviewed said the workshop offered valuable information and the opportunity to bond with other seniors over good food. The remaining two events — “Mixology” and “Cooking 101” — are scheduled to take place Friday and next Tuesday.

“Reality Bites is designed to give seniors some of these basic skills — equipping a kitchen, stocking a pantry, selecting healthy foods, choosing a wine that pairs with food and drinking from their own water glass at dinner,” Special Events & Projects Manager Pedro Tello said in an email.

He added that while some students are “adventurous culinarians,” many outgoing students want to learn the skills necessary to cook for themselves, maintain a household, host dinner parties and exhibit proper etiquette.

Seniors signed up for the workshops by filling out an online survey that allocated the 60 available seats per event on a first-come-first-serve basis, Tello said. He added that each event filled up within the first few hours.

Event costs will be offset by meal swipes and Yale Dining funding, he said.

The first event was hosted by Vincenzo Lauria, Associate professor of hospitality and service management at the Culinary Institute of America.

Throughout a four-course meal — which featured dishes including classic consommé, chicken breast with smoked gouda and sun dried tomato and opera torte with elderberry flower mousse — students learned everything from when to use each fork to what wines pair well with chicken, according to Isabelle Napier ’14, who coordinated the event.

“I think that graduating from college is the perfect juncture to learn basic skills in the kitchen, as well as the social rituals we have surrounding food outside the kitchen,” she said. “Beyond the practical skills … Reality Bites also brings seniors together to socialize and have fun in our last few weeks before graduation.”

Students interviewed praised the first event and stressed the importance of this type of series.

Jessica Perfetto ’14 said learning how to behave oneself in a formal setting is an important component to socializing in the “real world.”

She added that this series aims to teach lessons that students would not necessarily learn from four years on a meal plan, such as why champagne is an “aperitif.”

David Ottenheimer ’14 said the first event delivered some of the best food he has ever had at Yale. Still, he said the best part of the evening was the enthusiasm and charisma of Lauria, who he said made a potentially “stuffy” topic very entertaining.

Although there was high demand among seniors and the first event was fully booked, Ottenheimer noted that there were some empty seats at the actual event. He said this could be due to the way the waitlist system was managed, adding that he hopes this issue will be resolved before the subsequent dinners.

Sara Sampoli ’14 said she wishes she could have signed up for all three events instead of just one. She added that in the future, Yale Dining could host more iterations of these events to reflect the level of interest.

The next event, “Mixology” will be taught by Bob Sullivan, a certified professional mixologist, who will instruct students to make simple and delicious cocktails, as well as review how to stock a basic bar and how to pour wine correctly, Napier said.

Finally, “Cooking 101,” will be led next Tuesday by Yale Dining Director of Culinary Excellence Chef Ron DeSantis and Yale Athletics Nutritionist Lisa Canada. They will teach students how to prepare nutritional dishes and teach skills such as stocking a kitchen, properly using a knife and avoiding common kitchen errors, Napier said.

Comments