By Jared Giurleo – 1851 Contributor
Mathieu Ouellet is a senior currently enrolled at Lasell University, and he understands this issue. He shares his knowledge through the LCTV program “Culinary College” making dishes that students can make.
Q: How have you developed your culinary skill over the years?
A: I started off when I was 5 helping my parents in the kitchen. Just kind of cooking, scrambling eggs, that kind of stuff and I gradually started advancing my meals and making better stuff. I eventually got a position as a dishwasher in a restaurant and bar. I started learning the dishes from the cooks and how they made it. By the time one of the cooks quit, I knew the entire menu and I was naturally the choice for the job. From there I got a job opening a restaurant with a guy I know from my hometown of Worthington. I worked there for three months then I came back to school.
Q: What’s your plan to purchase ingredients at a grocery store?
A: Usually I shop the sales. I don’t try and plan meals, I look for different ingredients that will go together in a variety of different combinations. Just to keep it cheap, keep it simple but still tasty. If I’m shopping for spices I’ll look for a big bottle of spice blend instead of individual spices. Because the blends are often a lot cheaper and a lot more useful than individual spices.
Q: What’s your process for making meals at school?
A: Usually I do most of the prep in my room especially since of covid. I don’t like to wear a mask while I’m cooking, it gets hot! I’ll prep it out mostly in here and then carry my ingredients out to the kitchen which is luckily right around the corner. I’ll start cooking stuff up in my different skillets, I’ll stick stuff in the oven and get it preheated whilst chopping ingredients. Just doing my thing and working through it. If I were starting off here I’d get a cast iron skillet and a spatula. A cast iron skillet, something that can go in the oven and on the stove so you can get a two for one deal on that. That’s pretty much all you need really.
Q: Any advice for students that are looking to avoid the dining hall?
A: Definitely shop the sales. If you have any freezer space, go to the wholesale clubs like BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club. I think you can get great deals on purchases that’ll last you for the majority of the semester if not the school year. Definitely get a starter cast iron pan or something that can go in the oven and the stove. Get a spatula and a couple bowls to mix stuff up in. Generally you want to keep it simple because there’s not a ton of great cooking space here. Pre-covid I’d say make friends with people who live in halls with kitchens but it’s a little tricky now since we can’t go places.
Q: If a person is interested in cooking meals for the first time on their own, where can they find recipes to get started?
A: Google’s great, it’s got pretty much everything just look for the ones with a lot of reviews and fairly high stars. You can get recipe books at flea markets and thrift shops. There’s definitely going to be a couple that you’ll recognize right off the bat. They usually have the orange and white checkering. Those are great ones! You can look on the back of sour cream packages, cream cheese, and different cheese packages and stuff. They’ll have recipes and are generally pretty good.