You can’t cook with a laptop. At least, not yet. But you can teach someone to cook with a computer.
That’s what University College of the Cayman Islands lecturer Tanique Dunbar has been doing this summer, using Zoom to direct a handful of students in UCCI’s hospitality programme through the steps for making eclairs, chicken and corn chowder, veloute sauce and strawberry bravois.
And why not? Cooking shows have been popular on television for decades. So, when the UCCI campus, along with all of the other Cayman schools, shut down this spring due to COVID-19, Dunbar found herself as the star of her own online cooking class.
“It is different,” Dunbar said. “With face-to-face instruction, it’s one-on-one. With Zoom, you can’t really do that. Sometimes it’s a little difficult seeing what they’re doing, which is a drawback.”But, she said, for the most part, it has worked out and she is confident her students are developing the skills they would need to work in a high-end commercial kitchen.
“They’re actually loving it,” Dunbar said. “I can see the joy in their eyes.”
In addition to the digital adaptation, there were also some logistical issues that had to be worked out. Normally, the students would have all the ingredients they would need in the kitchen facility at UCCI’s School of Hospitality Studies. Instead, all of the materials had to get to the students in their homes.
“I ordered the ingredients from Progressive Distributors in bulk,” she said. “I separated them and I had two students who came and picked it up and distributed it.”
All of that, she said, required working within the restrictions the government placed on Caymanians during the lockdown.
During the summer semester, her students listened to lectures and demonstrations she provided on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays, it was their turn to cook.
UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee said Dunbar’s efforts are an example of how the school’s faculty has adapted to allow learning to continue during the COVID-19 restrictions.
“Tanique has been able to change course very quickly, providing not only online instruction, but coordinating a system to make sure her students had all the materials they needed,” McAfee said. “All of our faculty has made similar adjustments. Hers just taste better.”
While Dunbar is hoping to get back into the real world kitchen this fall with her students, she’s been satisfied with what they’ve accomplished online.
“I’ve adapted to it,” she said. “Being at home in the summer is a little more relaxing. I’m enjoying it for now.”
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