JAKE BILYEU

News at Nine Producer

bilyeujc@plu.edu

Hummus, peppers and many fruits set the scene as college students gathered to address the production of food.

The event took place Monday night in Pacific Lutheran University’s Hinderlie Hall, as thirteen students and Eric Swanson discussed the infatuation with the celebrity chef and how it has affected food culture in the world to answer the question: “Is food art or is it craft?”

While the event did provide plenty of healthy snacks, the event was concerned with a problem Poivrons_Luc_Viatourpresent in many places outside of the hall.

Cooking channels are among the fastest growing television channels in America, especially among young audiences.  The average viewer may have trouble differentiating between chefs seen on television. Unfortunately, they are not alone.

“People get caught up in Swansons,” Swanson said. “You’ll hear people say, ‘the food is garbage, but it’s Guy Fieri, so you have to go there.’ It’s this culture of celebrity chef that makes food an art.”

Swanson sees the problem even in culinary school, the one place that he’d expect it to be absent.

“Students expected to come out of culinary school as an executive chef,” Swanson said. “They try to skip the dirty work altogether.”

Swanson stresses the value of creativity in cooking.  Similar to a musician, a cook is responsible for manipulating their craft to draw emotion out of its recipients.

“As a musician, you are setting the stage,” Swanson said. “As a cook, you’re doing the same and giving people an enjoyable experience.”

Like cooking shows, Swanson is also largely concerned with the environment surrounding the food, but not in the same way.

“With your favorite meals, you remembered the food, but you remembered who you were eating it with,” Swanson said.  “That flavor sparks that memory.”

“The care you inflict into a product reflects in the product itself” Eric
Swanson
; Chef

“My family is super foody, so I’ve had a lot of different kinds of food,” sophomore Rizelle Rosales said. “The most memorable part of the meals is the experience.  This really touched on how important the experience is.”

“A cook isn’t there to take a bow, a cook is there to work behind the scenes.”

To answer his initial question, Swanson also asked the students to differentiate between art and craft in general.  Many students replied, but only one word stood out: technique.

“You have to develop a technique over plenty of practice.” Swanson said.  “When you create artful food, tasting it should cause you to associate it with another art outside of food.”

Finally to answer his question, Swanson also believes that art and craft are similar and that the technique itself is what defines the experience.

“Simply reading from a recipe isn’t always enough to create that enjoyable experience,” Swanson said.  “The care you inflict into a product reflects in the product itself.”

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