Hansol Hwang, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2016 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: “As a senior nearing graduation, you’ve learned many things but there is much you don't know. What is something you think Pepperdine could have taught you in order to better prepare you for post-grad life? Create a proposal for a course that covers that topic.”
Culinary experience is viewed by many on channels dedicated to food, in five star restaurants, and in the everyday poor-man’s fast food restaurant chains. Yes, there is an excellence that is even displayed by the red-haired Ronald McDonald himself. From Bobby Flay all the way down to the minimum wage chef, a masterpiece is created within each respective kitchen. On the other hand, culinary disasters can be viewed by almost every naïve college student in dormitory kitchens across the country. Even the granite countertops in “Worst Cooks in America” have seen better days.
Food is a necessity. Academic performance is fueled by it. Students fresh out of high school are sent out to college to fight the intellectual battles found within the classroom, but the kitchen was a battlefield they were not trained for.
The long years I have been here at Pepperdine, I have always wished that Pepperdine offered courses in cooking. There are a few things that I may have been taught at home and through YouTube, but my culinary prowess ends there. The food at the Cafeteria is nice, but it quickly becomes mundane and wallets are strained until there is nothing left. My lack of cooking stills is a problem that I will run into again after graduation, especially in the “real world,” where eating out can be costly.
The faculty and staff do not have to consist of the Iron Chefs, but it would be much appreciated if there were faculty and staff that could impart even a quarter of their skills. The class would be a four-unit class and meetings would take place once a week. Courses should teach the basics of the use of the knife, the pan, the grill and the oven. Also, it should include topics on breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main learning outcome is to be able to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be no lab because class time will include at least an hour of instruction and the remainder of the time will be hands-on experience.
As a part of the course assignment, there will be a week where students must only eat food that they cooked. The activity will require a three-page reflection paper. Exams will consist of culinary skill where a student cooks a dish. It will not be graded solely based on taste, but also on completion and use of culinary technique. Also, pop quizzes will require the student to create a dish on the spot. There will be three presentations. Each presentation will require the student to teach the class on a signature dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A signature dish will be chosen and presented at the Cafeteria and the student will receive extra credit. The final exam is to create a proposal menu for the whole day at the cafeteria and the actual dishes must be created.
At the end of the course, students will be able to cook a wide range of dishes—a perfect skill for post-graduation.
Hansol is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Journalism and Psychology.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.