Culinary arts students participate in UA Museum’s chocolate cotillion

Jeremia Schrock / Sun Star Reporter
April 12, 2011

The famous “Peanuts”cartoonist Charles Schulz once said, “All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” This is especially true when it comes to the UA Museum’s annual Chocolate Bash, where chocolate is the event’s raison d’être – its reason to be.

Student chef Melissa Raimer hands Sabrina Steklachick a sample cup of white bean ice cream with a chocolate tortellini during Saturday nights annual Chocolate Bash at the UA Museum. April 9. Jeremia Schrock / Sun Star Photographer

The event was rich; in chocolate, coffee, wine and fashion. Local chefs and restaurants donated their time and talent to present delicious pastries and sweets to those who could afford the $75 tickets. The Bash is the only fundraiser that the museum holds every year, with the intent being to generate donations for the Museum Endowment Fund. The fund “supports acquisitions, exhibitions, research and public programs at the museum,” according to Theresa Bakker, Communication Manager for the museum.

However, this year’s Bash was different then previous events. Students and chefs from the Community and Technical College (CTC) participated, putting their newly acquired baking skills to the test. “The students don’t normally make sweets,” said Luis Martinez, a Program Assistant in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality department. “It’s a chance for them to get their fingers wet.”

While Martinez oversees his students in the kitchen, they were given free-reign in deciding what to create for the event. Except for one specialty: the chocolate margaritas.

“He said it came to him in a dream,” said Cody Eastgate, a second-semester student in the program.

“I asked him what he’d been dreaming,” responded Rosa Estrada, another one of Martinez’s student. “Since it usually means work for us!”

I asked Martinez if the dream story was true. He laughed. “Well, it’s an inside joke that Rosa likes to drink,” he said, adding that a common cliché among chefs is that they cook with one hand while drinking with the other. The dream story, however, was partially correct.

The night before, Martinez had had trouble sleeping. He sat at home in his recliner watching television when he thought, “We should make chocolate margaritas.” He flipped the channel and the very next image he saw was of a cooking program that taught how to make them. He knew what he had to do.

He got on the internet, printed off the recipe and headed into work. When Estrada called to say she was on her way in, he asked her to pick up a few extra ingredients. “It’s 10 a.m. and I’m asking her for tequila!” he said, laughing.

For many of Martinez’s student, his kitchen is the place to be. “You learn a lot in the kitchen,” Eastgate said, adding that he prefers working with his hands then reading from a textbook.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be in the kitchen,” said Jewell Cruikshank, a second semester student. “It’s always nice to be in the kitchen.”

Despite the respect and admiration he has for his students, sometimes Martinez has to be hard on them. “Don’t get stupid on me,” he’ll say to them. “They respect me for it! Why? I don’t know! Sometimes they’ll ask me ‘Why are you such an asshole?’ And I ask them, ‘Did you learn?'”

They always answer, “Yes.”

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