Cooking with a Chef

Interview with Marge Condrasky, EdD, RD, CCE
Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

This is Peter Kent for Science & Society. Today we’re talking with Marge Condrasky who is part of a program called Culinology.

Culinology is the coolest thing. It’s the combination of Food Technology , why things happen in the kitchen, and what is the chemical and scientific reasons for what we observe. This course, which is called Cooking with a Chef, this is a 10-hour program relating to five different lessons that we’ve coordinated with a nutrition educator and the chef exposure to be able to cook more freely and with confidence in their home kitchens to create menus that contain 9 – 12 servings of vegetables and fruit each day of the week and to reduce sodium or not even use salt. So those are the 3 main goals of Cooking with the Chef.

Drew Warmin, you’re a graduate student in Food Sciences, you’re the one who brought Cooking with the Chef to campus. How did you get the idea and what is its purpose?

Well, I’ve worked with Cooking with a Chef before and college students just seem like they’re just such a great group of people, really ready to learn, they want to eat healthy, they want to know how to cook, they want the options. It just seemed like a great opportunity to bring that to the college.

And what have you seen from being involved in these so far?

I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of ambition, a lot of running to different spices & seasonings and a willingness to want to learn how to cook. I come in here and I help all the students try to learn how to cut up their vegetables properly, how to mix flavors together properly, and just kind of overall how to be confident when they are cooking.

How does this fit in with the curriculum at Clemson University?

It fits right in the middle of everything that we do within The Food Science & Human Nutrition Department as we focus on culinary nutrition and bringing the science and the nutrition to the actual food that we empower and encourage people to provide at home; and to gain that self-confidence, we call that self-efficacy, in preparing menus from scratch using ingredients that they can certainly pull right from gardens in SC.

Today we’re in a test kitchen. Can you tell me a little bit about this place?

Certainly, this is the culinary research kitchen. We’re set up to handle, as a culinary school would be, actually four stations where students can work in teams of four and cook and process foods and then we do provide the sensory and the food technology analysis equipment so they can utilize their food technology background and understand what’s happening in the food they prepare.

We’re able to provide this by empowering the home cook. They can take this information home and cook for their own families in a healthy manner but also so it tastes good. So that way they can really stick to it and really change their lifestyle.

Every class they cook a meal; and every class it’s been delicious so far. So, I see high hopes for this group and for others.

And there we have it. Thank you all for talking with me today. I really look forward, and if you don’t mind, I’m going to hang around and see what we can get to eat.