ISU summer workshop will explore culinary creativity to "Enhance Your Iowa Plate"

AMES, Iowa -- In the popular 2009 film "Julie & Julia," the audience learned how legendary French chef Julia Child discovered her cooking passion through lessons at Paris' famed Cordon Bleu cooking school. Iowans can now discover their own joys of cooking closer to home this summer through the "Enhance Your Iowa Plate" workshop at Iowa State University, Thursday-Friday, June 10-11.

Conducted at Iowa State's state-of-the-art food labs located in MacKay Hall, the event will explore the science of culinary creations, while also taking a "Culinary Tour of Iowa."

"Today's dietitians and educators are more interested than ever in expanding their culinary skills, while staying up-to-date on the latest health and nutrition trends," said Jean Anderson, senior clinician in Iowa State's food science and human nutrition department. "This workshop allows us to blend two key areas of interest: nutrition and food. Participants will learn new tricks to provide quick, nutritious, tasty meals for family and friends."

Participants will begin their culinary tour by working in the "chef's kitchen," with live demonstrations and personal instruction from ISU Dining's professionally trained chefs. They'll then get hands-on culinary experiences while practicing proper food safety and cooking techniques, knife skills and fresh fruit and vegetable preparation.

The workshop will literally take the tour on the road as participants will be given the chance to sample Iowa's bountiful fresh produce with a visit to the West Des Moines Farmers' Market. Participants will be asked to purchase produce at the market that they'll learn to prepare with the help of the chefs on the second day of the conference. The event will culminate with a summer picnic featuring the fresh foods prepared by the participants.

"We are using local, seasonal foods," said Erica Beirman, Iowa State's culinary science coordinator. "That's the whole purpose of going to the Farmer's Market. It's a social time that provides a break from the conference and encourages participants to immerse themselves in fresh Iowa produce. We'll bring produce back to the workshop and attendees will work in the food labs with the chefs from ISU Dining to make lunch for the next day."

Increasing consumer interest in health and nutrition is the motivation behind planning the conference, says Bierman. That interest also drove the creation of the university's undergraduate culinary sciences major, which began two years ago and blends food science and technology with creative aspects of food preparation.

Registration for the conference in available online at: Seating is limited to the first 50 people who register. Early-bird registration is available before April 30 for $149. After that, registration is $199. Registration includes a continental breakfast and lunch both days. Registered dietitians can also receive 12 continuing professional education units by attending the conference. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and a collection of recipes.

Stewart Burger, coordinator of special events at the Knoll [the ISU president's residence], will also host a pre-conference event, "Iowa Made." It will celebrate a selection of Iowa's finest wines, spirits, beers and artisan cheeses on June 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Burger will share his knowledge of this emerging industry through a sampling of food and wine pairings certain to delight the palate. The pre-conference event will cost an additional $40.

Additional workshop details are available at