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Chatham offers opportunity for ‘foodies’ to continue to learn

November 24, 2018

At Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus in Richland you don’t need to be a food studies student in order to take a cooking class with a pro.

When the university launched its CRAFT program -- the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation -- a year ago the creators wanted to include a series of workshops in which the community would be invited to learn not only from their graduate students but also alumni and visiting chefs. Classes range from bread making to wine and chocolate tasting to butchering.

“The workshops are like mini-food studies courses,” said Cynthia Caul, outreach and research coordinator for CRAFT. “You’re getting practical culinary skills tied in with the academic, social, cultural and food systems knowledge as well.”

CRAFT is affiliated with the food studies program and the Falk School of Sustainability at the school. Part of the goal is to pair students with local food and beverage purveyors to get real, hands-on experience in the industry within western Pennsylvania.

Class sizes vary according to how hands-on the specific program may be, from about 10 people to a maximum of 20. They are held in the lodge kitchen on the historical side of the building.

“The lodge was the place where women who worked in the Heinz factory could come and have some recreational time so they could come with their families,” Caul said. “There was a functioning farm with gardens and horses and apple orchards that are still out there, and they’d come get a reprieve from the city and the smog.”

Past programs have included dry-curing meat for the home cook, seasonal salmon, skills in flatbread, gourmet pizza and an introduction to canning. The center has also held lectures to which the public is invited, such as September’s talk on “Chewing the Fat: Italian Foodways, Gender, and Oral History,” by historian and culinary scholar Dr. Karima Moyer-Nocchi.

Their most popular programs usually involve, bread, chocolate and/or wine, Caul said.

Programs in November include introduction to rye bread on Nov. 10 and “Techniques in Taste: An Introduction to Italian Wine Producers” on Nov. 17. Those classes are both $50 and last two hours. For more information visit https://www.craft.chatham.edu/events/.

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