WSCC Culinary Arts welcomes Pate, ADAI

Lunch celebrates Alabama Specialty Crop Cooking Demonstration grant

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Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture of Industries Rick Pate with Wallace State Community College President Dr. Vicki Karolewics (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College (WSCC) Culinary Arts students on Thursday welcomed Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture of Industries Rick Pate and representatives from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) to campus for a lunch prepared with locally sourced products to promote WSCC’s recently awarded Alabama Specialty Crop Cooking Demonstration grant.

The grant helps promote the preparation and usage of specialty crops in restaurants and home kitchens through demonstrations. The funds are part of the USDA AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by ADAI.

The WSCC Culinary Arts Program’s food truck will be used to promote the initiative at events across Alabama. Culinary Arts students will provide demonstrations with locally grown food to encourage others to shop locally and support Alabama farmers.

“The term ‘specialty crop’ is a little different for all of us here. Squash, cucumber, potatoes- those are basic things, but for people at home that don’t have the knife skills that we have, that don’t have the know-how that we have, they’re scared to purchase those items,” WSCC Chef Aaron Nichols said. “They want to go and buy them prechopped, premade and reheat at home. They’re spending too much money doing this. So, our goal is to promote those specialty crops across the state to give people, restaurants, everyone the knowledge to not only prepare these items but also purchase them locally.”

Added Pate, “This whole partnership with Wallace State is something I dreamed up, and I’m convinced that people want to eat local, they want to eat basic food like squash and eggplant, but a lot of people are intimidated and don’t know how to cook them, and a lot of stuff doesn’t taste good if you don’t cook it right.”

The food truck the program will be using was previously used by the Cullman County Extension Office and donated to WSCC earlier this year. The Extension Office obtained the trailer through state grants but did not utilize it as much as it originally planned.

“The Extension was able to transfer it to Wallace State so they could take ownership of it. My goal was to make sure it stayed in the county,” said Extension Coordinator Kira Sims.

For Thursday’s lunch, Nichols and the Culinary Arts Department served three courses, starting with focaccia bread topped with fresh ingredients including Pleasant View Farms heirloom tomato and J. Calvert Farms pearled cucumber. The main course was a brisket en glace courtesy of Sullivan Creek Ranch with a sweet potato and jalapeno galette with ingredients from Kress Farms. Dessert was a J. Calvert Farms blackberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream.

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