Students host South African luncheon

Louisville senior Gabby Hermosillo laughs at her classmate’s joke while preparing apples for Thursday’s student-led dining experience, a South African-inspired meal, in the Micatrotto Dining Room in the Academic Complex. Leanora Benkato/HERALD

Tommy Sullivan

Before Hopkinsville native Bruce Hunt began his senior year as a hospitality management major, he never thought he would be preparing a South African luncheon.

“I wasn’t really familiar with South African cuisine,” Hunt said.

However, he and his classmates in the Catering and Beverage Management course HMD 471 designed a four-course South African meal that will be presented to faculty and staff for $12 per meal.

The luncheon is Thursday in the Academic Complex dining room.

Students in the course choose a different theme each year for the project. This year’s class decided to honor WKU’s International Year of South Africa.

Hunt said the biggest challenge of the project was creating a menu of South African staples the diners would both enjoy and learn from. He and his group chose recipes by taste as well as the cultural experience they would give eaters.

The South African palate is very different from that of the United States, Hunt said. South Africans eat spicier foods than Americans, and the foods contain more onions and sweet potatoes. 

Furthermore, a few necessary ingredients are not available in the U.S., so the cooks had to make substitutions. For example, they replaced some spices with curry.

Hunt said researching how most South Africans cook made him realize how much he takes for granted.

For example, gas and electric stoves heat up and cook food quickly for the American families while South African families must wait longer for fire-cooked meals.

Julie Lee, the group’s nutrition and dietetics instructor, said the financial side of the project is a challenge.

The meal’s entree is bobotie, a beef meatloaf seasoned in curry with almonds, fried onions and apples, blanched almonds and raisins. 

“Everything’s spicy,” Hunt said of South African cuisine.

The bread is a dense African flatbread topped with butter and sesame seeds. It is popular with cart vendors in Africa.

To end the meal, the class will serve a spicy pumpkin bread pudding with pumpkin custard from an African master-chef recipe. 

Hunt said the dessert will taste similar to American pumpkin bread with its cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger.