Next time you go to your favorite restaurant, you might want to take a second look at the menu. Thanks to On the Menu, a new reality series on TNT, original family recipes will soon be added to 10 different chain restaurants’ menus. On the Menu premiered Friday, Oct. 3, and the Oct. 24 episode will have a Keuka College connection.
Garrett Zur ’09, who is earning his master’s degree at Keuka College, will be one of four amateur home cooks featured on the new show’s fourth installment. He and his fellow cooks will compete to put their family’s recipes on the menus of such restaurant chains as Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory, among others. One restaurant will be featured for each of the 10 episodes.
“I cannot share what was made, but the challenge for the episode was to create a new decadent dessert for Planet Hollywood,” said Zur, who learned about the competition from Twitter. “I wanted to participate because it is my culinary passion to be on TV and with TNT having a new cooking show, why not be part of that? It is an awesome experience—one like no other. It was such an honor to have this opportunity.”
On the Menu, hosted by Ty Pennington and Chef Emeril Lagasse, who serves as Menu Master, bills itself as the first cooking competition show ever to give viewers at home the chance to taste the dishes they see on screen, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in restaurants across the country.
Each episode of On the Menu opens on a set that looks like the featured chain restaurant. And like Zur’s favorite cooking show, Food Network’s Chopped, the four cooks must face a series of elimination challenges in order to make it to the final round.
“I like Chopped because it uses ingredients that I sometimes have in my house and it tests my creativity on what I could make,” said Zur. “Plus, any food challenges are fun to watch.”
In the first round, Zur and his competition must demonstrate their understanding of all things Planet Hollywood through an intense preliminary challenge. In the second round, the three remaining cooks must each create their own new dish for the restaurant and serve it to a room full of hungry diners and super fans of the featured eatery, whose votes will determine who moves on to the final round.
But the cooks don’t have to face the challenges alone. Pennington leads competitors through each of the elimination challenges, while Lagasse provides his expertise as a seasoned chef and industry insider, using his vast knowledge of cooking, branding, and sales to help the contestants shape their culinary creations.
After refining and perfecting their dishes based on the comments they receive from the diners in round two, the final two cooks serve their creations to Pennington, Lagasse, and representatives from the featured restaurant, in whose hands the final decision rests.
And if Zur wants his culinary creation on Planet Hollywood’s menu, he will need to rely on the skills he learned from his mother, one of his earliest influences in the kitchen.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved baking. I got my baking ‘gene’ from my mom who taught me the art of baking,” said Zur. “The best lesson my mom taught me was to lick the beaters. She would always say ‘if the batter tastes good, then the cake or dessert will taste good.’”
The hardest part of baking, said Zur, is knowing that it is chemistry. “You have to precisely measure each ingredient or it will not work, unlike cooking where you can eyeball. The easiest part? There are so many simple recipes out there.”
Zur also credits such television chefs as Chef Pasquale Carpino, Rachael Ray, and Debbie Fields—of Mrs. Fields Cookies fame—as impacting his culinary aspirations.
“At age 14, I started watching Rachael Ray. She is my culinary idol—I love watching and learning from her,” said Zur. “She has so many different books, tips, and tricks. I love her cookware and her daytime show. She truly taught me how to cook without needing a lot of direction. Her Cookin’ Round the Clock was the first cookbook I ever got. She didn’t attend culinary school, so she also taught me that you don’t need a culinary degree to pursue the passion of food.”
Armed with that knowledge, and the confidence he gained from making his culinary television debut, Zur is one step closer to making his dream come true.
Added Zur: “One day, I want my own cooking show, but my next step is to complete my master’s degree. Then hopefully, I will appear on more TV shows for cooking. For now, I will spread my ‘fooditude’ to anyone interested.”
Zur’s episode of On the Menu airs Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
When Sarah Ameigh flew to Honduras in August she carried two suitcases and a carry-on bag. The carry-on held her clothes and personal items, while the suitcases were crammed with fabric. Intended for the women of Tegucigalpa, the capital city, the fabric was destined for use in sewing and crafting small items such as table runners, scarves and tote bags the women sell in order to support their families.
In Honduras, poverty is nearly as rampant as the crime caused by roving gangs – primarily fueled by the drug cartels. With many men caught up in illegal gang activity, or busy working harsh jobs, few children see their fathers; often, siblings don’t even have the same mother and father, Ameigh described. As such, education and empowerment to learn skills that can sustain a family become critical. Indeed, each of the 13 other travelers also flying with Ameigh filled their own suitcases with other supplies, medicine or craft materials needed to benefit the schoolchildren and families they came to serve with the “Border Buddies” mission organization.
The myriad of socio-economic issues facing the families and children in Honduras was a fascinating study for Ameigh, who is completing a bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College, studying each week at Corning Community College through the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).
“Social work is all about human service. One of the main goals is to be out there and help promote change and social change,” she said, explaining that the primary purpose of the service trip was to add four new classrooms and a kitchen to a school building used for 250 children ages four through 12. The trip was sponsored through Ameigh’s home church, Victory Highway Wesleyan Church in Painted Post, and was the 30th visit in nine years that members of the church have made to that city and its mission outposts, she said.
According to Ameigh, all 250 schoolchildren had been “plastered in” to just six classrooms and most had no place to eat at school, one of the few places that can help counter the poverty at home. Even so, there are few books, but because the children have no better comparison, they are simply happy to be there, she said.
Like many other locales within the city, the school grounds were gated because of the threat of gang violence. According to Ameigh, the threat was so strong that mission team members were not allowed to go near the gates as they worked on the building repairs in order to ensure their safety. The team members heard that gang initiations often require killing another gang member or a personal family member and learned that only one in three children is safe from the threat of assault.
Building school rooms for the kids provides a safe place to learn, so they can get off the streets and have a good job,” said Ameigh, who missed one week of her ASAP classes to participate in the trip, but had the full support of her professors, Susan Grover Vanpelt and Doyle Pruitt.
While Ameigh completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2002, after a brief stint in the banking industry, she switched jobs and started working for the Steuben County ARC. Ten years later, the passion for her work prompted her to enroll in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) for a bachelor’s degree in social work. Ultimately, she hopes to complete an MSW degree and become a licensed clinical social worker with a focus in counseling, she said.
On the first full day of service, the mission team set to work transforming the shell into new schoolrooms. While Ameigh helped sand walls, then prime, paint and sand some more, others including her older sister Bethany worked on the roof of the building. As the week, and work, continued, the team – which ranged from two 15-year-old boys to adults in their 50s – made visits to other local schools in the afternoons. While a few women would instruct native women in the sewing and craft techniques, others such as Ameigh would keep the children busy playing games such as soccer, or learning their own arts and crafts.
In contrast to Sarah’s two suitcases stuffed with fabric, Bethany Ameigh carried plastic “melting beads” in her two suitcases, Sarah said. Gathered with string, the beads are melted with an iron into fun shapes, Sarah Ameigh said. The two sisters learned that balloon animals were also quite a draw and that Honduran children have a funny habit of coating their bodies with the colored dust from sidewalk chalk decorating the ground.
Citing her course in human behavior, Ameigh said much of life success is impacted by the environment a child grows up in. The missionary couple hosting the team from New York’s southern tier emphasized especially to men in the group “to be sure to spend time with the kids because fathers aren’t really part of their lives,” said Ameigh.
“Unless something intervenes, they’ll end up in the same situation as their family [members],” she said.
Recalling how the missionary couple described the rescue of one young man, previously living a life of crime and violence, Ameigh said the trip helped show her the value of the career she’s pursuing.
“He’d leave after school Friday, party the whole weekend and come back on Monday. But he’s now part of the youth group, has to show up two nights a week, hold to a certain grade standard, and [sell food] around the barrio to make money,” she described. “The missionaries are saving one life of a child on the streets and now these kids are working and going into a trade there,” she said, comparing the trade system of Honduras to the colleges of America.
“The mission of social work is to help empower people to make change in their own lives – we’re not doing it for them,” Sarah said, citing the women and their training in sewing and crafts as one example.
Despite the shock of the extreme degree of poverty and crime, the children were endearing, Sarah said, recalling one little girl named Jamie who brought Sarah’s sister Bethany a sugar wafer one morning – a small treat that must have cost the little girl nearly all she had – but was so distraught she did not have another for Sarah that she ran, crying, all the way to the store, in order to buy a second treat to share.
“I hated to take it, but they said you should so that these children can learn the empowerment of giving, too,” Sarah Ameigh said. “It was weird coming back because of what we saw. It’s dirty, it’s dangerous and you come back and you’re in culture shock. You look at your house and say, I don’t need this. I don’t need that. It changes you.”
The Keuka College softball team experienced success on the softball diamond in 2014, qualifying for the annual North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) postseason tournament while winning 16 or more games for the ninth straight year.
The Wolfpack’s success extended beyond the playing field, as seven student-athletes earned All-America Scholar-Athlete honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).
Earning the academic honors for the Green and Gold were (with their class from last year): seniors Katie Evangelista (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva), Danielle Gravel (Sidney, N.Y./Sidney) and Jill Hart (Cowlesville, NY/Iroquois), sophomores Allyson Muller (Bath, NY/Haverling) and Liz Warren (Elmira Heights, NY/Thomas A. Edison), and freshmen Brianna Long (Arkport, N.Y./Dansville) and Brittany Massi (Auburn, N.Y./Port Byron).
To earn All-America Scholar-Athlete honors from the NFCA, a student-athlete had to post a grade-point average of 3.5 or better (on a 4.0 scale) in both the fall and spring semesters.
This is the second straight year that Hart, Muller and Warren have earned All-America Scholar-Athlete honors, and the first time Evangelista, Gravel, Long and Massi have received the academic honors.
Nationally, more than 4,660 softball players earned NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors last year, including 1,005 student-athletes at the NCAA Division III level.
Keuka College was one of 159 Division III institutions to land student-athletes on the All-America Scholar-Athlete squads.
Keuka went 16-10 overall and 14-4 in the NEAC during the 2014 season. The Wolfpack advanced into the NEAC tournament before falling on day three of the double-elimination competition.
For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit www.KCWolfpack.com, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/KeukaAthletics, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.
Keuka College’s Phillips Lounge (in Dahlstrom Student Center) received a much-needed face-lift over the summer. A grand opening ceremony was held Monday, Sept. 22.
Thanks to the leadership of two College Board of Trustees members, Don Wertman and his wife, Chris, and Dr. Barbara Schaefer Allardice ’61 and her husband David, the lounge’s old fireplaces were removed and now features stunning floor-to-ceiling views of Keuka Lake.
The fireplaces were removed in order to maximize space, and the new lounge offers collaborative workspaces, state-of-the-art TVs, a writeable surface wall, and new furniture with built-in charging capabilities.
For more photos of the new lounge click here.
According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 300 languages other than English are spoken in the U.S. Nearly 7,000 living languages are documented worldwide.
Such diversity of language illustrates the need for dedicated language resources in local communities, and the U.S. at large. But where can these resources be found?
Enter the National Language Service Corps (NLSC) and its members, including Dr. Wendy Gaylord, dean of China programs. Gaylord became a charter member of the NLSC in 2009 when it was a pilot project. In 2013, it became a permanent part of the Department of Defense, providing services to all branches of the government.
“I was interested in participating as a charter member because I want to use my language skills to promote understanding,” said Gaylord, who speaks fluent Indonesian. “The NLSC is an organization of volunteers fluent in foreign languages who are willing to provide language services to the U.S. government when required. I am always interested in ways to use my Indonesian language skills, so this was a good fit.”
A first-of-its-kind government organization, the NLSC offers multilingual speakers the opportunity to volunteer their language skills and be a bridge to their language communities. These individuals speak, listen, read, understand English and another language, and make themselves available to help others when a U.S. government requirement arises.
“I heard about the NLSC program during the pilot phase because I had received a Boren Award to support my use of Indonesian language during my doctoral dissertation research in Indonesia. I was accepted, in part, because I have been a State Department interpreter for the Office of Language Services, so my name was already on a list somewhere in the government,” said Gaylord. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to add an important international and language component to their educations.
According to Gaylord, the NLSC is needed because while the U.S. has many people with foreign language skills, the government had no way to find such people when needed.
“The NLSC is a group of people who think that their skills can be used for good if they can help bridge cultures divided by language,” said Gaylord. “I have worked overseas and have seen the problems that can arise when people are unable to communicate effectively due to the lack of a common language. I have always thought that it is critical for people to really learn other languages and cultures in order to know their own.”
In order to be a member of the NLSC, Gaylord took language tests—in English and in Indonesian—to document that she is fluent. Members can be called upon in times of need to use their interpreting, translating, teaching, and/or subject matter expertise skills to assist others in the United States and around the world during short-term assignments.
“I receive messages whenever there is a need for an Indonesian speaker to carry out an assignment,” said Gaylord. “These vary in scope and in length of time. Because I work full-time at Keuka College I have not been able to respond to some of these, but recently, I did participate in a four-day assignment in Washington, D.C. It was very gratifying to think that the work I do benefits other people.”
While Gaylord speaks Indonesian and English fluently, she has studied Chinese and can communicate, but is not fluent. She also relies on her high school French and Latin, which she admits, “are only useful in crossword puzzles.”
Added Gaylord: “I imagine that Indonesian does not have many assignments compared to languages needed in some of the world’s ‘hot spots’ such as Afghanistan or areas of the Middle East. I have not been able to take an assignment that is out of the country. I have only been to Washington D.C., but I would enjoy doing more.”