DIANE DE BEER
To celebrate their spanking new kitchens, the University of Pretoria’s Department of Consumer Science invited celebrated Mosaic chef Chantel Dartnall to guide the students through a fine-dining lunch for the media while also introducing their latest BSc Culinary Science degree which keeps them ahead of the curve:
All of us at some stage of our lives, man or woman, has to take stock of our kitchen. Think how much more challenging this becomes in a teaching environment.
The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Consumer Science Department this year unveiled newly renovated food laboratories that will accommodate more students with better equipment – some of the latest, in fact – and benefit their latest degree.
More students will be able to participate in the cooking experience, which means more trainees. Previously, the labs had 26 stations in total, but this has now been expanded to 60. Gas stoves have been fitted in keeping with current commercial trends. The new labs can also offer induction cooking and blast freezing as well as a range of food science equipment for modern day research and training.
After much research, these kitchens have been designed to be trendy, ergonomic and user friendly, with industrial equipment and surfaces. A lot of this this wouldn’t have meant much to any of us but for the many cookery programmes on television, which have allowed us to become more comfortable and informed about the technologies and advancement in the culinary space.
“Culinary research is a growing area which can be expanded with new facilities and modern up-to-date equipment. This puts UP at the forefront of culinary art and science training and enables future graduates to contribute to consumer food product and services development,” says Dr Gerrie du Rand, head of the Food and Nutrition section at the department.
The latest BSc Culinary Science degree, which focuses on the art and science of food offered by UP is the only degree of its kind in southern Africa. And these kitchens are good news especially for these students, who have to be at the forefront of what is happening in the culinary world.
The degree itself taps into the latest buzz in education in the US, where strong links between creativity and science is being touted and applied with great success. That, according to the hottest research, is what should be driving prospective workers when choosing their study direction.
All you have to do to check the evidence is to type in the words science/creativity/students and you will find a host of articles about the latest findings and studies pointing to the rewards in your future if you should pay attention to this advice.
Take, for example, Nicholas Cary and Erik Voorhees, the pioneers of the world’s most powerful crypto currency, Bitcoin.
They put part of their success down to having been in the business leadership programme at the University of Puget Sound, a liberal arts college in Washington. They called it “a hive of intellectual curiosity”.
What they do there is enforce interdisciplinary programmes, so students of international political economics and business leadership are pushed to expand their thinking beyond their own narrow fields; and cross-train in the history department. Others studied the warrior poets of Asia!
Like a growing number of others in the US, this campus prizes broad-mindedness and intellectual discussion.
Think of the legal profession, one where creativity perhaps doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Yet someone explained the other day that the best part of her job was the solving of legal problems. That’s when she is at her most creative. It’s the same way a scientist will get to solve a particular problem. That’s what the arts do, they teach us to think creatively.
Now, if only someone had explained this to me when I was studying maths and science at school? We weren’t even told how a particular maths problem would be used in the real world? So you learnt by rote.
If food is your particular fancy, with their trendy culinary science degree kicking in next year, check the syllabus:
First-year departmental subjects: Basic food preparation; Other subjects: Academic information management, Language and study skills, Marketing management, Biometry, General chemistry, Physiology, Introduction to microbiology, Molecular and cell biology, Mathematics. Second-year departmental subjects: Food commodities and preparation Other subjects: Biochemistry, Marketing management, Food microbiology, Principles of Food Processing and Preserve, Bacteriology Third-year Departmental subjects: Food service management, Nutrition, Nutrition during the life cycle, Consumer food research, Large-scale food production and restaurant management Other subjects: Food chemistry Fourth-year departmental subjects: Product development and quality management, Food service management, Recipe development and standardisation, Culinary art, Research project, Experiential training Other subjects: Research methodology, Sensory evaluation