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Ultimate Student Staple Gets a Makeover by Chefs in Training

SLU culinary students recently served up super-charged ramen noodle bowls, sharing what they had learned in their Advanced Cooking and World Cuisine class with Fresh Gatherings diners.

What they served was not the typical starving student meal created by boiling water in a pot, then dumping in a package of noodles and a packet of seasoning.

"There are so many different components," said Kate Foody, a culinary senior, who worked the grill. "People don't know this kind of ramen even exists. They associate ramen with the stuff college students live on. It's very cool to see the real deal -- different flavors that you don't have in American cuisine."

Foody was one of five culinary students in a class taught by nutrition and dietetics instructor Dan Brewer. They spent the better part of eight hours preparing the ramen meal in the Salus Center kitchen.

The students prepared the fixings for a spicy pork Szechuan ramen made with turnips, scallions and soft boiled eggs; chicken fried Mofu ramen built on a type of Japanese broth, bamboo and collards; and steamed buns with pickled fried green tomatoes. The broth contained nine ingredients, including broccoli and collard greens the students had picked from the SLU teaching garden right before they began cooking.

The class cooks ethnic meals during their hands-on food lab each week, then packs them up to serve as entrées for Fresh Gatherings lunches.

It's awesome to grow what we're passionate about and that SLU gave us these tools."

Molly Diehl, Class of 2016

While the undergraduate culinary students stage what amounts to a food takeover of Fresh Gatherings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., culinary graduate students serve the meals, which are purchased primarily by SLU faculty, staff and students.

Moira McSteen, a sophomore nursing student, buys her lunch every Thursday in Fresh Gatherings. She said the ramen bowl she ate bore little resemblance to what was in her apartment pantry.

"The broth doesn't taste as if it has as much salt in it, which is a good thing. It's really good and has an Asian taste," Moira said.

Culinary students were energized by the opportunity to showcase their class work to Fresh Gatherings customers.

"It's awesome to grow what we're passionate about and that SLU gave us these tools," said senior Molly Diehl. "We were able to pick something in our major and share it with the SLU community."