By Phillip McMillan
I often meet cookery students from different cultural backgrounds studying commercial cookery here in Australia. Like everyone else, they usually have a preference to eat food from their country of origin and I have found that often, but not always, the student has little experience in eating the food and dishes that culinary trainers are teaching them to cook.
Students are often on a tight budget, so don’t go out to restaurants very often, and when they do, often (but not always) a student from an Indian background may go to an Indian restaurant and a student from a Chinese background eats out at a Chinese restaurant. That’s fine, we all love the traditional dishes that we grew up with, but this does little for a student’s culinary education.
To really understand food that you are cooking, you have to have developed a feel and taste for that food and that is difficult if you have a distaste for that food or rarely eat that style of food.
As with all cultural issues, there is no one magic answer to solve this problem. Culinary schools rarely have the time and money to make regular class visits to restaurants, which begs the questions, how to we encourage students of a different cultural background to eat European style food more often? Should we incorporate eating out at a European style restaurant into an assessment task? If so, how do we assess the student’s results in that assessment task? Does this add to competency in a training package sense?