Food for Thought: Culinary Arts at Phipps
Jun 11

Food for Thought: Culinary Arts at Phipps

By Alexa Sinatra

Food for Thought is a blog series all about Phipps sustainability efforts surrounding food! From the Edible Garden to Phipps Culinary Arts courses, there is so much to learn about the ways Phipps dishes out sustainable food practices. 

Phipps Culinary Arts courses give students the chance to discover new ways to prepare food that is good for them as well as good for the planet! No matter your level of cooking experience, these courses are open to anyone wanting to improve their skills. Botany Hall Kitchen Manager, Tess Monks, gave us some insight into the role sustainability plays in these courses and the numerous benefits it can provide to students.

Every spring, summer and fall, a new roster of courses are offered in all topics under Phipps Adult Education. When planning the Culinary Arts courses each semester, Tess takes much of her inspiration from the season itself in the Seasonal Food Guide. By referencing this, she is able to see what ingredients can be highlighted at the given time of year and use those as the basis for different themes and techniques for the courses. Tess says, “Eating seasonally is of course good for our planet but also gives us a natural variety of foods which is good for our health too!”

In addition to seasonality, Phipps Culinary Arts courses almost always incorporate instructors that are local to the Pittsburgh region. Many of whom are graduates from Chatham University's Master of Food Studies program. You can even find some of them selling their goods at the Bloomfield Farmers Market! A few local partnerships for Phipps Culinary Arts include 412 Food Rescue, Pitt Medical School, UPMC Nephrology Department and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

Though a wide range of Culinary Arts courses are presented through Zoom, many can be taken at Phipps Botany Hall Kitchen! Sustainability has always been a top priority for the kitchen and Tess says, “We have high quality, USA made, energy-efficient equipment including our induction burners for instructor and student use. We also use green cleaning products, reusable storage containers and encourage students to bring their own containers in case of leftovers to minimize potential waste.” 

Beyond the kitchen itself, sustainability is integrated into each of the courses in numerous ways. In every class, you’ll gain insights into topics like composting, food scraps and food waste. “Our chefs will demonstrate the best method on how to chop different vegetables to get the highest yield. We also promote creative yet practical ways to utilize some of those scraps! For example, using carrot tops to make a pesto or using cheese rinds to impart extra flavor in a soup.”, says Tess.

All in all, the main thing Tess hopes students can take away from their Culinary Arts course is kitchen confidence! “Having confidence in the kitchen to put together a meal helps you increase nutrient intake, lower food waste and often times will increase social connection and family bonding.”, says Tess. Ready to get cooking with Phipps? To peruse our list of current offerings, visit phipps.conservatory.org/CulinaryArts