DENTON (UNT), Texas — A new class at the University of North Texas is teaching students about the world’s vast variety of foods in a unique way.
The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s “Global Kitchen: A Culinary Journey” course takes UNT students through the cuisines of different cultures.
Each week, trained chef Jodi Duryea focuses on food from different regions, such as the Mediterranean, France, Mexico or West Africa. The class begins with a lesson about how geography, migration, war, native crops and other factors have impacted a particular culture’s food choices and cooking techniques. Then, the students put what they’ve learned into practice by actually cooking and tasting sample meals from that part of the world.
“Who wouldn’t want to eat in class? I make food at home, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go explore all these different cuisines without this class,” said senior Bradley Lien. “Week two, we made tamales from South America and then literally, the weekend after that, I went home and made tamales because I found out how fun it is to make.”
Chef Duryea, a senior lecturer in the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, says the course was an idea born out of her love of food, culture and travel.
“I love seeing how things have moved around the world and how different cultures have influenced each other,” said Duryea. “For the students, we have such a great and diverse population, and I think the best way to overcome some of the barriers is to eat together.”
Student Grace Mallory says she’s been anticipating this course for three years.
“I’ve been waiting for this to be an option all throughout college,” said Mallory. “I’m a senior and this gets to be one of the fun classes that I’m really interested in. I love to cook. But sometimes it’s just hard to find new recipes, so to have a whole entire class where it’s just exploring very exotic and diverse recipes is awesome.”
The class is not for beginner cooks, but rather, it builds on basic cooking techniques taught in Duryea’s food preparation course. Duryea adds that while UNT doesn’t have a culinary program, the goal of classes in the hospitality management program is to give the background to go into any part of the industry. Students get real-world experience into how to run a business as an owner, manager or executive.
“It gives you some of the fundaments you need in the kitchen, and then when you add on to that the hospitality part – the accounting, business, marketing, HR – it gives the students the skills to start in their careers and quickly advance. Sometimes when you’re young, people say they want to be a chef but they haven’t actually worked in a restaurant and they don’t know what that means. It’s not like on TV.”
Lien, whose family owns a restaurant, agrees.
“I feel like it’s a good background to have if you’re going into the hospitality industry at all because then you know the management side, as well as working on the line and understanding those technical skills.”