by Myra Saturen
October 29, 2013
Food can be delicious without being laden with sugar, fat and salt. Chef Jeffrey McClure, chef-in-residence at Northampton Community College on Monday, October 28 and Tuesday, October 29, showed students and community members how to prepare such dishes at a cooking demo in Lipkin Theatre.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he spent nearly a decade as a chef in New York's prestigious restaurant scene before being named executive chef with the Wood Company at Randolph Macon Women's College in 1995. During his tenure there, he earned the title of Chef of the Year and the college was consistently rated in the top five for best food in the Princeton Review. He is now a university dining chef with Sodexo.
To show how food can be prepared healthfully, McClure, who calls his culinary style glocal (globally-influenced food using local ingredients), first made a "Light"house clam chowder. "What is missing?" he asked the audience. Unlike traditional renditions of chowder, his version had no added salt, and lowfat milk filled in for cream. His butternut squash bisque relied on the ripe vegetable's own natural sweetness rather than sugar. (How do you know when a butternut squash is ripe? It should smell like ripe pumpkin.) Mashed potatoes is a beloved dish, but its health value can be significantly boosted, as the chef demonstrated. By blending potatoes with parsnips, McClure reduced the fat while enhancing the flavor. Lowfat milk, rather than butter, moistened the dish.
Other dishes on the menu included grilled pork belly with mustard honey glaze, horseradish, pickled red onion and apples; curry seared scallops with corn confetti, lemon and thyme chicken breast, and toasted angel food cake with balsamic-macerated strawberries.
What was McClure's advice for students? He recalled starting his culinary career as a dishwasher and moving up from there. "Do it now," he said. "Go to the hot places, learn it now." Then, when chefs are more established, he said, it is better to stay at one place since this stability looks better on a resume.
Highlighting the educational nature of the event for culinary students, Denise Francois, dean of business and technology, introduced each member of the culinary education staff at the beginning of the program.
The Robert C. Wood Chef-in-Residence program was established by the Wood Company (now Sodexo, Inc.) in 2000 to give culinary students the opportunity to work side-by-side with chefs from some of the region's top restaurants. While on campus, the chefs also share some of their favorite recipes with the public during a cooking demonstration and special dinners. Proceeds from the demonstration and the dinner will benefit the Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Arts Endowment Fund at NCC.
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