Ako Ndefo-Haven

Bread enthusiasts convened at Yale on York on Tuesday evening for a hands-on bread-making and grain-tasting workshop hosted by Yale Hospitality.

The event began with students lining up to sample bread from Atticus Bookstore Cafe along with cheese and selections from charcuterie platters, congee and amaranth crackers. The workshop featured the head baker at Atticus Josh Kanter, Junzi Kitchen Head Chef Lucas Sin ’15 and Director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources Maria Trumpler. Chabaso Bakery and Junzi Kitchen supported and collaborated with Yale Hospitality to present the event. 110 Yalies registered for Tuesday’s
workshop.

“Collaborating with the New Haven culinary community is central to the core values of Yale Hospitality,” said Director of Culinary Excellence James Benson. “The mission of Yale Hospitality is ‘to nourish a culture in which the interwoven pleasures of growing, cooking and sharing food become an integral part of each student’s experience at Yale’ which is reflected in this series,” Benson added, referencing the official mission statement.

Kanter discussed sourdough starters and Atticus’ grain sourcing practices. He said that Atticus prioritizes the use of regionally grown and locally milled grains. Connecticut farmers produce their wheat, and their whole grains, such as spelt and rye, come from Maine.

For the first interactive element of the night, Kanter led the challah braiding demonstration. Each table had
several cooking stations, and the work
shop supplied teams of participants with dough, flour and a dough scraper. With these materials, the small groups braided challah and later prepared amaranth crackers.

Afterwards, Sin spoke about Junzi, grains and “elemental cooking” in Chinese cuisine. According to Sin, each of the five elements — metal, wood, water, fire and earth — correspond to various flavors and colors.

“[Junzi] is our attempt to introduce new ideas about Chinese food to the rest of the United States,” Sin said. “The common conception of Chinese cooking is quite singular. Chinese food is often represented as monolithic, but it’s super diverse.”

He ended his remarks on a hopeful note, saying that he expects that more restaurants in the coming years will “cross-pollinate” and incorporate Chinese cuisine and cooking techniques. He added that this change is akin to current common practices that combine French, Italian and
Japanese food.

Trumpler, who called herself an avid baker, led the second hands-on component of the event — preparing amaranth crackers — and taught attendees about the historical background of the grain and explained her personal
interest in the topic.

“I’m really interested in historical bread-making,” Trumpler said. “I really believe in recreating that experience as a way of trying to learn something about the lives and the thoughts and the practices of those people — often women — who were making that bread.”

She added that the vast majority of females throughout history have not been able to leave behind many written records, but they leave a lasting impact on food practices.

Siddarth Shankar ’22, a student who has attended several Yale Hospitality events this year, said that having speakers from Yale, Junzi and Atticus made the event more relatable, given the local focus.

“This one was particularly interesting because it was a workshop,” Shankar said. “I really liked it because it was more interactive.”

At the end of the event, every attendee received a sourdough starter. Additionally, attendees who could successfully answer questions about previous Yale Hospitality events received loaves of bread from Atticus.

Eda Uzunlar ’22 said that she appreciates different types of community events that bring in “interesting and important parts of Yale.”

“It was a really good break — I definitely look for events that take you out of the trenches of academic work and school,” Uzunlar added. “This is a fun thing that removes you from that whole environment and makes you feel like a normal person.”

Senior Director of Residential Dining Adam Millman said that Yale Hospitality plans to continue interactive events and currently has several additional ideas for hands-on workshops, including pasta- and dumpling-making.

Millman added that Yale Hospitality decided to offer interactive experiences based on student feedback to previous events.

Recent events by Yale Hospitality include a Feb. 12 “Food Conversation” on sustainability and biodiversity in African cuisine featuring acclaimed chefs Selassie Atadika and Pierre Thiam. The prior week saw a “mindfulness unexpected” dinner with celebrity chef Elizabeth Falkner and yoga instructor Sarah Girard that sought to create a “unique sensory dining experience.”

Yale on York is located at 150 York St.

Ako Ndefo-Haven | ako.ndefo-haven@yale.edu.