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Beyond Mac 'n Cheese: Student Club Brings Creativity to the Kitchen
June 28, 2011
"When you've got a bunch of guys, it's
fun to make bread-you can pound it!" Christian Hidden enthuses.
The civil engineering graduate from Vancouver, Wash., is one
of the founders of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Culinary
Hidden, who was homeschooled until high school, spent a lot of
time in the kitchen as he was growing up. Alongside his 3
siblings, he learned to cook from his mother, a from-scratch cook
who ground her own bread flour. Having four kids meant that
Hidden's mom cooked big meals, but the family also needed to live
frugally. "We did a lot with leftover food," he explains.
When he transferred to Rose-Hulman as a junior, Hidden brought
his love of cooking good food with him. He soon realized that
not only did many of his friends have unhealthy eating habits, they
were clueless in the kitchen. But as is typical of students
at Rose-Hulman, most of them were eager to learn. "I asked
all of my friends, 'Would you be interested in a cooking club?'
They said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'Do you even know how to cook an egg?'
They were like, 'No.'" Hidden knew he had his work cut out for
Beginning with small gatherings in his apartment, Hidden started
teaching a few friends the basics. "It was really a need that had
not been met," he says. "Cooking food is a lifelong skill," he
adds, "If you know how to cook you can live cheaply."
Everyone pitched in a few bucks to cover the cost at these
meals, but soon the club outgrew Hidden's apartment. He then
approached the Student Government Association, which he said
approved the club "almost immediately." Working with ARA Manager
Matt Garcia, the group began to hold larger events using the campus
"The real reason we started the club was to teach students how
to eat healthy, sustainable food." Hidden says that while
there is an emphasis on sustainable, locally grown ingredients, as
well as cooking meals from scratch, time limitations have forced
the group to make some practical decisions. For example, when
the club made apple crisp, they opted to use frozen apples to cut
down on the prep time.
The skills Hidden gleaned from his childhood were put to the
test when he organized the club to provide a meal for the
participants of the 30 Hour Famine at the end of their event in
October. Sponsored by World Vision, the famine allowed
students the opportunity to raise money to fight world hunger as
they went without food for 30 hours. Afterwards, hungry
participants enjoyed a meal provided by the Culinary
Craftsmen. The group made pasta, salad and from-scratch
breadsticks for 150 people.
Other club events were sprinkled throughout to year. A
springtime pizza night drew about 60 people. For dessert night,
Hidden divided the attendees into 3 teams, each creating a
One of Hidden's goals has been to change the way his peers think
about food and cooking. "Instead of going out for fast food--Hey,
cook some eggs and put together a breakfast burrito." He says that
he wants to educate people about what they're eating, as well as
making them realize, "You can actually have fun in the
For a foodie like Hidden, promoting cooking on campus has been a
way to show a little love to his fellow students, "I'm trying to
improve the quality of life at Rose-Hulman," he says. Although
Hidden graduated this spring, he's confident that the Culinary
Craftsmen club at Rose-Hulman will continue to grow. "People get to
cook for free, they get to have fun, and it's good food."