Inspired by a desire to constantly improve food options available to the campus community, Chefs Mark Turner and Corey Palakovich, of NC State Dining invited four international students into their test kitchen. The students — Bharat Balagopal, Karthik Narasimhan, Kalpit Shailesh Mehta, and Bhavika Mittal — all from India, became the teachers one Friday morning in July. They gathered at the One Earth kitchen in Talley Student Union to cook a few traditional family recipes – derived from their home country while the professional chefs took in every move.
“The opportunity to work with Chef Turner and Chef Palakovich in a professional kitchen made my day,” said Bharat Balagopal, a PhD student in Electrical Engineering.
I believe that food brings people together and the One Pack, One Kitchen initiative is a great way to do that,” says Balagopal.
Karthik Narasimhan, a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, is also excited that the chefs believe in bringing authentic Indian cuisine to the students of NC State. “I am happy I can share my creation with the Pack,” he says.
The goal was to share new ways of cooking and expand international food offerings through the One Earth Kitchen in Talley Student Union or through the university’s RAVE! catering menu options. Taking advantage of NC State’s large international student population enabled the chefs to leverage student expertise and take a hands-on, personal approach to learning Indian cuisine. The ingredients and step-by-step recipes demonstrated by the students from India were closely documented by the chefs with the idea of eventually scaling them up to serve thousands.
Chef Palakovich says, “It’s always great to see the excitement people have for cooking a dish so close to their heart and that means something to them. Whether it reminds them of their childhood, a place they visited, or just a loved one. The enthusiasm for their food was shown in the great dishes the students made. We hope to bring a taste of their home to the students at NC State.”
“The students were so excited to share their family recipes,” Chef Turner reported. “They dove right into explaining every step including their family connection to the dishes, just as I do when I prepare my mother’s meatballs or chicken parmesan.”
The chefs plan to invite more international students from different regions of the world to continue learning traditional cooking methods from around the globe. The cooking demonstration was the first event in planned series called “One Pack, One Kitchen,” a partnership between NC State Dining and International Affairs.