Culinary students raise money for trip to Mexico

Culinary students raise money for trip to Mexico

Culinary student Vy Nguyen prepares sushi for the Culinary Buffet.

It’s rare for students to have an opportunity to learn about a culture first-hand. A handful of OSU Institute of Technology students in the School of Culinary Arts will have that opportunity this summer when they travel to Mexico and get an up-close lesson about that country’s cuisine.

During the summer break, five students along with Culinary Arts Dean Gene Leiterman and instructor Celia Melson will spend nine days in Mexico, primarily at UPAEP, a university in Puebla that offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including culinary arts.

Last year, Leiterman was part of a delegation from the OSU system that traveled to the university in Mexico to tour the facilities and learn about the programs.

“Although we have had a relationship between the schools in the past and have had faculty exchanges, I wanted to explore ways to create new student experiences,” he said. “Reading about food and culture is one thing but actually visiting a country with a rich food history reinforces the things we teach our students every day.”

While the school is covering the cost of airfare, the students must pay the program fee of $990, which includes all tours, demonstrations, cooking workshops, lodging and transportation in Puebla and Mexico City.

The students have already started fundraising through the sale of baked goods, but are now focused on selling raffle tickets to a special dinner.

The winner of the raffle drawing will receive a private family-style Mexican dinner for six prepared by the students who go on the trip. They will serve dishes and use cooking techniques they learned while in Mexico.

“As we were brainstorming ideas for raising money, we discussed ways to give donors a taste of what the students learned from the trip and give students the opportunity to practice as well,” Leiterman said.

Raffle tickets are $3 each or two for $5. The fundraiser runs through June 20 and the following day, a winner will be drawn who will choose the evening for their dinner in the Culinary Arts Garden Studio.

Students Theresa Du and Vy Nguyen said they want to go on the trip to gain more culinary experiences and learn about another culture through its food.

“We’re going to be able to work with chefs there and have the chance to do some cooking,” Nguyen said. “I want to have fun, taste good food and do a little sightseeing.”

Du agrees.

“It’s cool they’re giving us a chance to go on this trip. It expands our education,” she said.

For some students, this will be their first time visiting another country, Leiterman said.

“One of the cooking lessons scheduled is learning the history and proper technique for making mole, a dish created and made famous in Puebla,” he said. “They will have experiences and learn recipes and techniques to take with them as they start their own careers.”

To purchase raffle tickets, contact Celia Melson at celia.melson@okstate.edu.