The team at Stanford University’s Residential & Dining Enterprises wasn’t content in feeding the 4,000 students with meal plans. They wanted to teach them how to feed themselves for the rest of their lives.
So the Stanford team partnered with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to develop its Cook Smart Program — a nine-week course that would teach students how to prepare nutritious food.
“R&DE Stanford Dining and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation have been friends for many years,” Eric Montell, executive director of R&DE Stanford Dining, said. “Our organization has been a strong supporter of Jamie’s Food Revolution Day [which celebrates and encourages scratch cooking] and has worked with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation on various other projects aimed at engaging and educating students to make healthy, sustainable food choices.”
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Based on Oliver’s Ministry of Food cooking campaign, the Stanford program is designed to teach even the least experienced cooks basic kitchen and food skills as well as nutrition and sustainability.
The classes are taught by R&DE Stanford Dining chefs trained at the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation headquarters in London to ensure consistency in teaching and to combine technique and nutrition messages.
The first class covers salad, including basic knife skills, along with the nutrition message of the five basic food groups. The next class tackles breakfast, and its importance as part of a daily diet. The soup class also includes information on how to read nutrition labels.
The program began on Oct. 6, 2015, and so far 56 students have finished the course. An additional 40 are currently enrolled.
“I have been able to improve my basic cooking skills and have also learned to appreciate the food in the dining halls more,” sophomore Blanca Diaz said. “These classes have also made me more conscious of what I consume. Now I add at least one vegetable to each meal.”
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