Arts(demokitchen)

It’s no secret that the Rec Center has something to offer everyone. What has unintentionally been under the radar, however, is the Demonstration Kitchen that the Fitness and Wellness program offers.

Located on the second floor of the Rec Center in a back room are shiny silver tables facing an ordinary kitchen. It comes equipped with a large island in the center surrounded by a refrigerator, a dishwasher and sink, two ovens and plenty of countertop space.

This place is home to the Demonstration Kitchen, which offers free cooking classes to students.

Steve Kudika, the assistant director of fitness and wellness at Campus Recreation, was the instructor of the class held on Sept. 26. Although it has not always been in this format, Campus Recreation has offered Demonstration Kitchen since 1996.

In 2007 the program moved to the space it occupies now, which is actually a renovated office. At that time, UTSA was one of three campuses that offered this type of facility.

When the recipes are created many health factors are taken into consideration; anything from allergies to diabetes is reviewed. In addition, a college student’s budget is considered.

“The mission of the program is to be healthy, cheaper and utilize reusable ingredients. We’re not trying to have people spend money on something they’ll only use once,” said Kudika.

While demonstrating valuable cooking techniques, the Demonstration Kitchen classes aim to promote healthy eating habits for college students. It’s so easy to microwave ramen noodles or drive through a fast food restaurant on a daily basis, but these classes are designed to provide easy meals that last as viable options.

“I really like to do sessions with folks that incorporate healthy meals that you can make on Sunday and will sustain you and another person for the week,” says Kudika.

The class offered on Sept. 26 featured zucchini lasagna. Although this may sound strange or unappetizing, rest assured that the finished product tastes delicious.

“I don’t even like most of the ingredients, but I really like the outcome,” said freshman engineering major Danielle Davenport. “It actually gets me to eat vegetables.”

First, the class of about 20 people huddles around the stove located on top of the island and listens to the recipe’s nutritional facts. Then the hands-on work begins. Graduate student Gisele Alvarez has the task of slicing the zucchini into long, lasagna-noodle-shaped strips. “I don’t enjoy the pasta part in lasagna so (it’s) a very good option for me,” said Alvarez.

The drawback to the class is that there are not enough ingredients for everyone to make his or her own meal, so the work has to be distributed among the group of attendees. Kudika remarked that “unfortunately, the lower number (of participants) is actually better so we get more people involved and it’s a little bit more engaging.” Although this may be true, anyone can benefit simply from watching, and being able to take a copy of the recipe home makes it easy to duplicate.

Making zucchini lasagna is considered a second level class. What constitutes the differences between levels one and two are the types of techniques involved and the amount of time it takes to get the finished product. “For this one in particular, as a level two, we were sautéing some things. Instead of grilling, we actually baked a couple things; we browned the ground beef,” said Kudika of the process.

The Rec Center hosts roughly seven cooking demonstrations per semester with around 20 available spots per class. To sign up for a class send an email to fitness@utsa.edu.

For more information, explore the Fitness and Wellness tab at utsa.edu/recreation.

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