Zac Cohen cooks a trial dish.

Drexel University and Longwood Gardens students tackle food sustainability and innovation

Professor Jonathan Deutsch provides the students with an idea of ​​the project.

“I said this to the Longwood folks when we were there that, if nothing greater is achieved from this partnership, from my point of view in terms of experiential learning and bringing the course content to life, it will still be a success,” Deutsch said. “The ideal would be for students to come up with menu ideas that inspire the Longwood team, who will now look to Drexel as a source of sustainable food innovation and an intellectual partner who can help advance their operations through research, recruitment, and experiential learning.”

Deutsch developed the course with Program Director and Associate Clinical Professor Rosemary Trout, DHSc, and Associate Clinical Professor Chef Chuck Ziccardi as a supplement to Drexel’s Ziccardi Urban Horticulture courses. Senior Vice President of Academic Industry Partnerships Rajneesh Suri, PhD, had similar ideas brewing. When Suri visited Longwood Gardens, he saw the missing link between restaurants and gardens. He thought about how gardens could promote sustainability by providing a link between what’s on the menu and what’s in the ground. He thought he was more likely to spend his money on food that came from the garden and contained messages about nutrition and sustainability.

“This led to a series of exploratory conversations between Drexel and Longwood Gardens,” Suri said. “The course came together in a beautiful way and also ties in well with the university’s Innovation Engine Initiative, which provides incredible support and resources in terms of our students and faculty using their creativity to drive the engine forward.”

Gabby Thayer, Zach Cazor, and Naomi Bass made tomato soup.

Students insert Drexel as a link and gas into the engine.

Culinary arts and science students Zach Cohen and Gabi Marchionne teamed up with entrepreneur and innovation leader Ryan Munro to make lamb tomato rice into a signature product. There was tomato powder garnishing the plate, tomato water with agar and tomato oil, pickled hot peppers with vinegar and tomato water. Their goal, Marchionne said, was to “punch you in the face with tomatoes” in the manner of an elegant dinner.

Another team, comprising culinary arts and sciences student Gabby Thayer, biological sciences pioneer Naomi Bass and information systems student Zach Kaczor, also served tomatoes in their “spaghetti-ous” dish, which featured smooth tomato soup, fresh pasta, and sage. Bass and Kaczor are not culinary students, so they were thrown into new depths with sustainability and cooking.

“I look at products in a more sustainable way,” said Cazor. “Now I know things like how to use carrot greens for pesto. I used to consider myself environmentally conscious, but this class really expanded on that. Working with Longwood Gardens was an amazing project that I didn’t really expect.”

Computer science student Khanh Tran, biological sciences pioneer Dayana Markarian and culinary arts and sciences pioneer Kela Mata developed the pupusa tomato, while DHS major Anna Hopkins, Rachel Rafferty and Culinary Arts and Sciences student Eugene Abunasco developed an empanada with tomato, leeks, chili and watercress. The parade of dishes ended with culinary arts and science pioneer Charlize Williams, general studies student Joseph Brown, and psychology pioneer Ryan Pomalis ice cream corn with caramel popcorn.

empanadas

One team made empanadas with vegetables that can be grown in Longwood Gardens.

Taste the dollar, along with Bloome, every hydrating dish. Bloome provided feedback during the presentations, suggesting to students how they could elevate or improve their dishes and analyzing how they fit into the spirit of Longwood Gardens.

“I think we’ll turn to students for inspiration because they’re more connected to food trends,” Bloom said. “A restaurant’s death is set with what you make. Something like an empanada could be good in our barbecue hut.”

Suri said more conversations are underway with Longwood Gardens about how DSI and Drexel students can enhance their operations, including ways to improve the virtual experience and real-world video content in partnership with Pennoni Honors College. Currently, the Garden-to-Table Cooking class can be used as a model for how DSI is progressing and working with partners. Deutsch hopes to introduce the class again.

“This is a great example of what can happen when academia and industry come together,” Dollar said.

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