Cooking up a taste of home in Lower Usdan

Brandeis Dining Services reached out for students’ favorite recipes and prepared them for a night of home cooking in Lower Usdan

Lower Usdan executive chef Johanne Legrand whips up a recipePhoto/Mike Lovett

Chef Johanne Legrand

Nothing is more evocative of the comforts of home than a favorite dish prepared just the way mom or dad makes it. So with finals looming, members of the Brandeis Dining Services team hatched an idea to bring a taste of home to the dining hall: They reached out via the Brandeis parents Facebook page to ask parents to send along favorite recipes from home.

“We got a great response. We had to winnow them down to seven dishes that will work well scaled up to the proportions we need to provide a meal for students, and I think we have some great options that the students will really enjoy,” said LisaMarie Ianuzzi, a district support manager for dining services provider Sodexo.

On Monday afternoon, Dec. 5, the kitchen at Lower Usdan was given over to cooking chicken with cornflake crust, pasta with fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella, red lentil soup and other dishes that were crafted out of the recipes for that night’s meal.

Johanne Legrand, executive chef of Lower Usdan, was responsible for taking the recipes provided by parents and translating them into the larger portions necessary for a cafeteria meal.

“It’s exciting to take on a challenge,” Legrand said. “I really enjoyed designing and serving these special dishes that would be familiar to some students and fun for others to try.”

One of the recipes Legrand cooked up was sent in by Hillary Stern, P’19. Stern said she originally discovered the vegetarian lentil soup in a cookbook for kids when her daughter, Carly KleinStern ’19, was a little girl.

“I’ve been making it ever since,” she said. “The wonderful thing about this recipe is it tastes just like chicken soup without the chicken,” and she has found it’s enjoyed by carnivores and vegetarians alike – which is important since both she and her daughter have been vegetarians since KleinStern was born.

KleinStern joked that she could “neither confirm nor deny” the soup’s similarity to chicken soup since she’s never tasted the poultry version, but she added “the soup doesn’t get old – we have it at Passover with matzo balls in it.”

A recently-declared physics major, KleinStern was excited for her friends to get a chance to try the soup, which she requests her mom make whenever she goes home. “I told all my friends to eat in Lower Usdan on Monday.”

Katie Decker-Jacoby ’19 is the chef and baker in her own family, and when she saw the Facebook request decided to send in some recipes she makes while at home. Her pumpkin chocolate muffins and a pasta dish were among those prepared by Dining Services.

“When I’m at home I love to cook and bake for my family, and my family loves when I cook and bake for them,” she said. “I saw the post on Facebook and thought, `this is such a good idea.’”

Legrand, who became executive chef at Lower Usdan last year, said she hoped the home cooking event would become an annual tradition, and added that some recipes could eventually become part of the regular rotation.

“This was a great opportunity for my crew and I to try something new and we all love doing something special for the students,” she said.

Categories: Student Life

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