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Serving with a smile

November 8, 2013

What do blackened chicken, fajitas and breakfast burritos have in common? Ingredients that make one can be spread to diversify all three dishes.

Penny McVey, a food service worker at Monmouth College for twenty years, taught a small group of students the importance of utilizing ingredients in order to save money and not waste food.

Teach, Talk, Taste, a culinary workshop, took place on Tuesday night and was sponsored by the Wellness Center, Residence Life and the Student Union board to showcase McVey’s culinary expertise and give students a few quick tips for cooking with limited supplies and on a budget. Because of the popularity of last year’s session, McVey was asked to participate once again.

Molly McNamara, Monmouth College’s director of wellness, said this event was a joint effort between departments to encourage healthy cooking decisions.

“Pretty soon, everyone here will be out cooking their own meals. Our goal was to show students how to prepare some easy dishes that students will remember when the time comes.”

McNamara was playing off the popularity of McVey in order to gather a crowd. “Everyone knows Penny,” said McNamara, “throw her name out there, and people will come.” Most people will recognize McVey as the jolly woman cooking the delicious omelets for breakfast or, more simply, Penny the Omelet Lady.

Throughout the session, McVey walked students through the step-by-step process of creating the meals for the evening.

Junior Anne Begley volunteered to be her assistant for the night, thus giving her an up-close look at the cooking process. After each meal was prepared, in roughly 15 minutes or less, everyone in the audience was given the opportunity to sample the dish.

“Knowing how to cook for one, shopping for bargains and reusing ingredients for multiple meals are essential for these students. I want them to be prepared for when they have to do this on their own,” McVey said.

When asked for her best piece of advice for students, she said, “Everyone should try to cook and stay away from fast food. It’s just not good for you.”

Since coming to Monmouth College in 1993, McVey said the best part of her job is interacting with students. “I love the students here. They come to me with questions about food and life. Really, I’m here to help. When they’re away from home, a lot of kids just need someone to talk to. Everyone at Monmouth has a special place in my heart.”

Elizabeth Meyer
Features Editor

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