Cook Something Winner: Sara Harris
In 2016, I launched a small scholarship contest here on Macheesmo called The Cook Something scholarship! The goal was just to give back a tiny bit to a community I love and also take a small amount off stress off of someone’s tuition bill.
Last year I continued the contest and ended up getting over 100 essays from kids (and adults) all over the country! Some were hilarious and some were sad. Mostly it was crazy to see the ways that cooking and food can connect people. It made me really excited to cook more and feed people I love good food.
I really struggled picking a winner this year from all the qualified people (I may need to expand the scholarship – ha!), but I ended up choosing SARA HARRIS, a student at TCU.
She will be awarded a $500 scholarship to go toward her studies!
Here’s a quick interview with her as well!
Can you talk a little bit about your background and what you’re studying at school?
Hello, I’m Sara! I’m from Mckinney, Texas and currently attend Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. My major is Movement Science (Kinesiology) on a Pre-Physical Therapy track with a minor in Nutrition.
As I have gotten more familiar with the culinary arts, I have realized that diet and nutrition are key components in therapy. What is being eaten by patients directly effects their recovery rate and overall health. Therefore, it is very important for all types of therapists to be knowledgeable about nutrition; which is one of my goals throughout college.
Right now, I am taking multiple nutrition classes and labs. Along with learning about the nutrition sciences, I have had the opportunity to cook during my nutrition lab. We have prepared quick healthy meals such as tilapia tacos and creamy spinach pasta, put together global recipes, and also serve and garden with a local food bank. Because the science behind rehabilitation is largely connected to food and nutrition, so I would like to incorporate both practices into my career.
What made you want to study the culinary arts?
A main influence that lead me to pursue nutrition studies is my high expectations for food. I have been very spoiled growing up with a mother who is an amazing cook, using ingredients straight from our backyard garden. She often let me cook (and taste test) alongside her in our kitchen to make healthy, tasty meals.
One tradition I looked forward to as a child was the Olympics. Every time the opening ceremonies were aired, my mom would prepare a common dish originating from that culture of the host country. For example, we ate Brazilian cheese puff dough balls (which are now a favorite of mine) with a national entree for the Rio Olympics. For the Sochi Games, we ate Russian dish with cabbage and pomegranate-soaked kabobs. This exposure to many different cultural dishes and styles of making food, led me to my interest in cooking today. Not only did this inspire me to make homemade meals, but also contributed to my love of nutrition that will help my future patients in therapy.
What’s a dish that means a lot to you?
One of the first dishes I learned to prepare well was chicken parmesan. This started when my brother and I came up with a new idea for a Mother’s Day gift: cooking dinner for mom! The process was a little chaotic, but it became a tradition. It is still one of my favorite go-to meals to prepare. But, the dish brings back memories of being with my family in the kitchen, which is what I think makes cooking special.
What’s your favorite thing to make after a long day?
After a long day, I enjoy making a healthy flatbread pizza glazed with olive oil and rosemary, sprinkled mozzarella cheese, and vegetables such as green peppers and onions. It’s easy to pop in the oven and prepare a salad on the side to go with it.
What’s your favorite cuisine to cook?
My favorite cuisine to cook (and eat!) is Italian because it is usually a perfect combination of my favorite ingredients: pasta, meat, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and bread. One type of cuisine that I enjoy but would like to prepare more often is Mediterranean food.
What’s a change you would like to see in American food culture?
One aspect that made food special at home growing up was having family dinners with my mom and brother. It’s so easy in today’s world to get take-out food or turn on the TV during meals without really enjoying what you’re eating. I think appreciating meals for what they are and who you are eating them with has been taking over with laziness that we now have in relation to food. I would like to see more Americans realize the art of a holistic, home-cooked meal with their family.
What’s your favorite cooking show?
My favorite cooking show is Chopped. Watching it inspires me to be more creative when cooking, since the idea of the show is to prepare a dish in a short time with “mystery ingredients.” I like to imagine how I would prepare the meal if in a contest, but I also enjoy seeing how people cook with their own unique twist.