When eating and learning mix at South Central College

And this is called study?

Lunch time — and I’m back in the cafeteria having chicken-fried steak with garlic whipped potatoes.

It’s hearty stuff cooked up by students of the culinary program under the eye of food service manager (and instructor) Rebecca Hageback. They also prepare the packaged salads and sandwiches each day, along with the hot food such as pizza and soup (cheesy cauliflower and broccoli today).

Rib-stickin' vittles

I’m paying for everything by credit card, because there don’t seem to be any ATMs around here, which is a little odd.

After that, though, comes the good stuff: dessert.

Today, chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut is putting on a four-hour demonstration. (This kind of thing happens from time to time, a South Central official told me.)

Belgian pastry chef Patrick Peeters is showing 15-20 South Central culinary students and local bakers about making truffles, chocolate mousse, dipping fruits and pastries in chocolate, and so forth.

(When I popped in, he was teaching them how to make a creme anglaise sauce, which is the base for the chocolate mousse.)

Barry Callebaut sales regional manager Kristin Wood tells the class:

“If you haven’t realized it by now, we’re all about fat in this industry. … Fat is the delivery vehicle for flavor.”

Indeed.

Eating it up

First-year culinary student Joy Boertje, 23, of North Mankato, says she thinks learning about all the different types of chocolate was “pretty cool,” and that her class has already had a number of guest speakers this term.

She wants to own her own bakery some day as well as produce specialty candies, she said, so “this is right up my alley.”