Developing a taste for refinement

Brittany Moffat

Emily Mikusa (left), senior hospitality management major, makes beef Wellington, to be paired with a Chamberson wine, while Brittany Fitzgerald (right), junior hospitality management major, works on breaded Italian chicken, to be paired with Jazz White wi

Credit: DKS Editors

Senior theater major Joe Ciotti said he thought knowing something about how to pair food and wine could come in handy after he graduates, both socially and professionally.

“Most actors in New York are waiters, anyways,” he said as he stood next to a tray of quartered red potatoes he and his partner were roasting during the final meeting of a special topics class on pairing food and wine.

The class, designed by chef instructor Ed Hoegler, is the first of its kind to be offered at Kent State. Hoegler’s class was designed to meet twice a week for five weeks this summer as he guided students through sampling at least 30 different wines and discussing which foods those wines would best complement.

The students spent at least three hours in the kitchen in Beall Hall as part of their final July 9. Working in teams, they prepared an entree and a dessert to be paired with a wine or wines of their choosing.

Some teams were more ambitious than others, with dishes ranging from beef Wellington paired with risotto and chocolate mousse-filled crepes, to chicken stir-fry and butter cookies.

Although many of the students in this inaugural session were hospitality management majors, Hoegler said anyone can enroll in the class and added a class such as this “helps (anyone) round their education.”

Senior marketing major Genevieve Larson, whose parents own a restaurant in Avon that she will take over after graduation, said she wanted to learn different ways of matching food and wine because it would help her in her work.

Emily Mikusa, senior hospitality management major, said the class had already helped her in her job as a bartender. She explained she is now able to recommend alternative wines to customers if their first choice isn’t available. She added the format of the class, where students visited two Northeast Ohio wineries and were able to try different wines, made the class more useful.

“It’s stuff you can’t really learn in a book,” she said.

In addition to visiting Debonne Vineyards in Madison and Viking Vineyards in Kent, Hoegler’s class met with a professional wine representative and took a four-hour class to receive their Training for Intervention ProcedureS certification.

Hoegler said TIPS certification covers service techniques for employees working in a bar or restaurant environment and trains them in “overservice intervention,” or knowing when to stop serving a customer alcohol.

Several students in the class said they had enrolled because they like wine and they like to cook.

David Baffoni, senior visual communication design major, said he likes dark red wines and he likes to cook, and because he needed three more credit hours before graduation, this class was a clear choice.

Hoegler said he might offer the course again but probably not until Summer 2009. He said there would be changes between this summer’s class and next. He added he thought there’s a value to a class such as this for all majors.

“There’s something inherently very wholesome about wine,” Hoegler said.

Senior conservation major Joe Dell’Anno had other reasons for enrolling in the class. His older brother, a chef in Florida, told him it was useful information to know and could have practical benefits.

“Chicks dig it,” he said.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Brittany Moffat at [email protected].