Life as a student can be like a complicated juggling act; where academics and social interaction become opposing entities that are constantly odds with one another. Oftentimes, in a struggle to maintain a healthy balance, students neglect their health, and instead find quick and easy ways to nourish themselves. Luckily, the monthly community kitchen workshops hope to introduce new styles of food to students, and encourage healthy eating.

Last Wednesday, chef Sandeep Kachroo, UTM’s culinary director, hosted a workshop on street food. Recent trends have shown street food to be one of the more popular choices of cuisine among students. Kachroo, having worked as a chef worldwide, enjoys preparing these foods here at home, and says that “making street food gives you a global perspective.”

At the beginning of the workshop, prior to being assigned a group to work with and a dish to prepare, each student was given an apron and a pair of gloves. Kachroo stressed the importance of changing gloves after dealing with uncooked meat and when tasting foods, so as not to facilitate the spread of bacteria and cross-contamination.

Each group had their own table, equipped with all the ingredients and supplies needed to create their dish. There were five groups in total; the first was responsible for making a falafel sandwich, which included falafel, tahini dressing, an assortment of pickled and non-pickled vegetables, and Greek yogurt all wrapped in a pita. The second group prepared jerk-chicken tacos with mango-pineapple salsa, including shredded purple cabbage and mashed black beans among the taco’s filling. The third group made their own version of the taco, substituting chicken for pan-seared fish, while the last group prepared a Calcutta chicken roll filled with tandoori chicken, vegetables, tomato sauce, and chillies.

I was a part of group two. We were responsible for preparing the jerk chicken tacos by first marinating the chicken, then preparing the mango pineapple salsa, later mashing the beans, then cooking everything and assembling the taco. Although this recipe sounds like it contains many ingredients and multiple steps, preparing the dish was the easy part—trying to eat it without having everything fall apart was much more difficult.

After everyone finished preparing their dishes and tasted their final products, Kachroo and his colleagues brought out multiple samples of each dish, which was prepared beforehand, so all the students were given an opportunity to taste the street foods.

When asked what he loved about these workshops, Kachroo responded, “It’s not about what we cook, it’s about learning what you want.” He added that he enjoys interacting with students and discovering their food preferences, as this allows the staff the opportunity to better cater to their needs.

“All we want students to know is that we are real people cooking real food,” he added.

In providing these workshops, the UTM dining staff hope that students can feel more confident in the kitchen, taking it upon themselves to say goodbye to their beloved delivery guy and hello to clean eating.