JWU Students Come Together for a Cheesy Collaboration

What happens when you mix together occupational therapy doctorate students, culinary arts students, and cauliflower béchamel? A “Chopped and Cheese” interprofessional event, resulting in six delicious (and healthy) macaroni and cheese dishes.

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As Chef Todd Seyfarth established in an earlier demonstration for Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) students, the link between nutrition and health — especially in a recovery setting — cannot be denied. To continue this hands-on study, the OTD class took to the kitchens, assisted and mentored by culinary arts students, to create healthy macaroni and cheese.

Students worked in groups of threes and fours to build on the cauliflower béchamel base and personalize the dish to their own tastes. Most dishes were loaded with healthy vegetables, such as roasted peppers, onions, and chili. Some groups also substituted tofu or avocado for cream, and experimented with different spice blends.

"You are almost never working alone and being able to communicate effectively with different professions is a very important skill."

The event drew a large panel of esteemed judges: Marie Bernardo-Sousa ’92, Providence Campus president; Billye Auclair, provost, Laura Galligan, dean of the College of Health and Wellness; Michael Budziszek, assistant professor of Biology; Nancy Dooley, interim program director and associate professor of OTD; Chris Corry, systems administrator; and Rebecca Simon, associate professor and academic fieldwork coordinator for OTD. A large panel of judges tasted and ranked each dish based on appearance, overall taste, texture, concept, and overall experience.

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The winning team was composed of two OTD students, Lisa Benson and Leila Schaper, and Culinary Arts student Dena Bradley. “Dena was very knowledgeable on what tastes go together and had ideas that we might not have thought of,” says Schaper. “I think it is important to be exposed to other professions, because you are almost never working alone and being able to communicate effectively with different professions is a very important skill.” Benson agrees, adding, “I look forward to more IPEs with culinary students, and translating our kitchen skills to a real-world setting.”

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