OCC culinary events to bring delight, intrigue to palates

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 19, 2018

 Culinary arts student Tederran Brundidge, of Detroit, works on a seared scallop with aioli sauce Feb. 15 at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge Campus.

Culinary arts student Tederran Brundidge, of Detroit, works on a seared scallop with aioli sauce Feb. 15 at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge Campus.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 A prepared dish of chicken and shrimp wonton is pictured.

A prepared dish of chicken and shrimp wonton is pictured.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

FARMINGTON HILLS  — If you enter the winding halls of Oakland Community College and happen upon the Culinary Studies Institute at the Orchard Ridge Campus Feb. 22, you could celebrate the Chinese New Year; on April 19, you could assume another identity. 

A Chinese New Year feast and a spy-themed repast are among the OCC Culinary Studies Institute’s upcoming community events featuring student chefs at the Orchard Ridge Campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Road.

“These two events — we’re very proud. We can’t wait,” Athena Bolger, culinary and management instructor for the Culinary Studies Institute, said during a recent phone interview.

The Chinese New Year Festival is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 22. It will celebrate the Year of the Dog with a traditional five-course dinner of Chinese cuisine accompanied by wine service, according to a press release. Tickets cost $55 per person. Signature drinks will be available for purchase.

The Chinese New Year dinner will feature Szechuan pork, wonton soup, shiitakes, cabbage, watermelon radishes, Peking duck bao bun, pickled vegetables, hoisin barbecue sauce and many other menu items.

OCC’s Culinary Studies Institute student Brandon Ashburn, of Warren, is also a cook in a midtown Detroit restaurant. He said during a phone interview that he wants guests to walk away with a better understanding of traditional Chinese foods.

“That hasn’t really been touched on a lot,” he said of the Chinese New Year Festival culinary event. “I think it will be fun to just exploit that and just to make (people) more aware just of the traditions.”

Ashburn is managing the dining room for the event. 

“This is my first time being back in, like, a management type of role,” he said. “So I’ve learned how to manage students, manage events.”

Bolger said that a lot of the themes and ideas for the culinary events come from guests as well as students.

“The Chinese New Year (culinary idea) was from one of our students, who said we have not focused anything on the Chinese culture, so that is where we went with it,” she said. The Chinese New Year was Feb. 16.

The Espionage Spy vs. Spy dinner will be held at 6 p.m. April 19. Attendees will be “under specific instructions to enjoy a five-course dinner” paired with a secret wine selection revealed at the appropriate time, according to the release. 

Attendees are asked to come “dressed to kill.” Drinks will be served at the cash bar, and appetizers will be passed. Tickets cost $55 per person.

Bolger said the April event is going to feature global cuisine.

“They are going to be given aliases — it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said, adding that about six Culinary Studies Institute classes, from a pastry class to a main course class, are involved in making the event come to fruition.

OCC Culinary Studies Institute student Mashelle Sykes said during a phone interview that she is one of the bar managers for the February event and she is a dining manager for the April 19 event.

“It has gotten me really organized — this has been my first management job,” Sykes said, adding that she has a little background in management.

“But to ... manage students … it is different,” said Sykes, who is in her last semester in school. Her long-term plans are to open a small bistro in Detroit. “I think people will enjoy the spy-versus-spy theme, not to mention it is 1940s (style), so vintage — they will enjoy that.”

For more information or to reserve a spot, go to www.oaklandcc.edu/culinary.