Culinary arts program works to provide brown bag lunches that veer from the ordinary

Culinary students at UNA prepare food at the East Campus

Matthew Gibson Staff Writer

If the idea of “brown-bagging” it sounds a little old school, then UNA faculty and staff should know that the Culinary Department’s Brown Bag lunches are anything but a traditional old-school lunch, according to Johnson Ogun, head of the department.

“Anybody can grill a steak, but we want to do it with a flair,” he said.

The culinary arts program is relatively new to UNA, so there has been no precedent for what Ogun and the East Campus culinary students are doing. The goal for organizers is to get faculty and staff interested and informed about what’s going on within the department.

The Brown Bag lunch program enables students to gain experience and to practice their culinary skills before they graduate and are sent out into the workplace. Being able to cook well is important, but it’s not the only value that Ogun instills in his students.

“Chef tells us that he’s not expecting us to be working in a restaurant, but to be running a restaurant,” said Eric McInnish, a culinary arts major.

The Brown Bag lunches allow students from each class to be broken up into groups, and each individual group sets out to create their assigned dishes as they see fit.

Ogun emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning. He tries to incorporate in-kitchen tasks whenever he can, and believes that being in the kitchen is the most important component of learning when it comes to culinary arts.

The Brown Bag specials allow him to teach the students cooking and management skills, while also raising awareness of UNA’s culinary program. Culinary arts major Ashley Whitehead enjoys the hands-on training that she receives in the kitchens of the East Campus.

While students can’t purchase directly from the East Campus, UNA faculty and staff are welcome to stop by Floyd Hall’s HES Department or the East Campus to place an order. Ogun hopes by next semester that they will be able to sell lunches directly to the students.

“For us, it’s health-conscious related,” said Ogun. “Everything we do, we focus on eating the right way. They can get the health for their money at cost. We want to be more beneficial to the students.”

For more information, Ogun can be reached at 256-765-6920.