Back in high school, I had a boyfriend who could only cook two things: toast and cinnamon toast. Since the likes of Martha Stewart and Julia Child had brainwashed me into thinking of cooking as a patently feminine skill, I saw his inability to use a whisk as an unmistakable sign of virility; the fact that he didn’t even know how to turn on an oven made him all the more masculine, which was just the way I wanted things.
That was, of course, before my first of many Lucky-Charms-for-dinner experiences. I had never before gotten to dinner at 7:01 and found my dining options suddenly limited to day-old bagels and yellow-green oranges. I hadn’t ever spent $11.50 for a half pound of reheated buffet food just to escape the horrid Lucky-Charms-for-dinner experience, either.
Now that I have lived in a college community for a year, the idea of someone cooking me dinner is hotter than hot. It’s the kind of thing I fantasize about in the middle of class. It’s downright sexy, and David Lieberman ’03 is the man who’s going to turn my fantasy into a reality.
Lieberman is a regular guy. He plays squash, he’s a political science major, and he can make an insalata caprese that would make your heart skip a beat.
“I’ve been cooking for friends since I can remember,” Lieberman said, “and they’ve always encouraged me to do something bigger with my skills. Finally this year the pieces all fell into place, and I’ve got myself a cooking show.”
That’s right, a cooking show. Not like that cheesy Emeril guy, more a public-access version of Jamie Oliver’s “The Naked Chef.” As is the case with similar Food Network sensations, “Campus Cuisine” suggests that cooking can be young, fun and easy. And what better way to communicate young, fun and easy than with a college guy teaching friends to cook in his apartment?
“The show teaches the average college kid how to make a fast, cheap and healthy menu for any occasion,” Lieberman said. “First I take cameras around New Haven and show viewers how to pick ingredients, then I cook it in my apartment, and finally I present the meal to my guests. It’s not about elaborate dishes, it’s about great food that anyone can cook in under 30 minutes.”
For Lieberman, cooking has always been a masculine thing.
“My dad cooked when I was a kid — I loved his poached salmon and homemade bread,” Lieberman said. “I learned a lot of what I know from him.”
Dave has added to his culinary training in informal ways, through working at various Philadelphia restaurants, world travel, and living with a retired chef during a junior term in France. But he has no prior experience in film or television and confessed that he is still getting used to working in front of a camera. Yet producer Amelia Shillingford ’03 is optimistic.
“Dave has a great presence on camera,” Shillingford said. “He’s phenomenally knowledgeable but doesn’t come off as being a smart aleck. He’ll teach you everything from how to cut a tomato to where to get the best olive oil. Most importantly though, he’s so fun to watch.”
Though “Campus Cuisine” currently enlists the talents of a production staff of nine, all readily admit that Lieberman has been the driving force behind the show to date.
“Dave has done it all,” director Chris Burke ’03 said. “He secured important funding from the [Jonathan Edwards College] Master’s Office, Yale Dining [Services], and the Office of New Haven [and State] Affairs. Dave was also the one to secure us a weekly slot on Connecticut Public Access. He really got the show off the ground.”
With the pilot episode currently in editing, plans remain flexible for the themes of future shows.
“In general, ‘Campus Cuisine’ picks a theme and creates a menu around that theme,” Lieberman said. “On the first show, we cook food for a blind date, and future shows will focus [on] different occasions that come up in college life.”
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