New Tech spices up learning

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Tech learners watch as Lisa Croteau and Daysha Amster judge food submissions Monday. Submitted photo

Niles New Tech learners watch as Lisa Croteau and Daysha Amster judge food submissions Monday.
Submitted photo

Select dishes created by Niles students will be on the menu at a downtown restaurant in the near future.

Daysha Amster, owner of Niles’ Olfactory Hue Bistro, partnered with Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy for a project that excited the taste buds, while teaching learners about the spice trade and the Age of Discovery.

The project culminated Monday with a food competition where teams of learners created a unique food dish featuring a specific spice.

Amster, who mentored learners throughout the process, was one of four judges who chose two winning dishes that will be featured on the menu at Olfactory Hue Bistro Nov. 4-9.

“I was wildly impressed,” said Amster. “I couldn’t believe they took the time to really think it out and come up with some great dishes. The execution was spot on and you could tell that they really cared. I had no idea it would be that difficult to choose a winner.”

Winning dishes in New Tech’s “Spices of Life” project were: Japanese paper-wrapped sponge cakes and Caribbean jerk shrimp.

The team that created the Japanese dish was composed of Megan Wise, Matt Lee, Aubrey Koebel, Will Pratt and Jessica Tompos.

The team that created the Caribbean dish was composed of Derrick Dye, Gatlin York, Amber Franklin and Brock Rohlfs.

Dye acted as lead chef on his team, which was tasked with creating a dish based around salt.

In addition to coming up with a dish, Dye said his team learned some interesting things about how spices were traded during the 15th century, including how Christopher Columbus enslaved natives to help with the spice trade.

“I never realized how harsh Columbus was and how badly he wanted spices,” Dye said. “It (salt) was a very valuable spice. They called it white gold in some areas.”

The project involved sophomores in Niles New Tech’s World Studies class, which blends English, world history and geography.

Kristin Adams-Bondy, world studies facilitator, said the idea was to have teams find a dish that utilized their ingredient while honoring the country where it was cultivated. Learners then presented what they learned in addition to entering their dish into competition.

Jerry Holtgren, New Tech director, said he was excited the project engaged a local business partner.

“I am excited because they will be serving our (learners’) dish at the restaurant,” he said. “It is an authentic project and one that works well for both partners.”

Amster said she would put her own spin on the learners’ recipes and offer them as specials at her restaurant, located at 225 E. Main St.

“I wish we could’ve chosen more dishes to do because there were so many good ones,” she said. “Maybe next year.”