HACC Shows Irish Tastes…Literally

Chef Long, Chef Gump, and Chef Casey prepared several traditional Irish recipes.

Christina Williams, Guest Contributer

Irish pride bloomed like shamrocks at HACC during Student Involvement’s “Live From The Chef’s Apprentice” Irish cuisine lecture on March 15, 2021.

In keeping with St. Patrick’s Day, Student Involvement Assistant Director Cindy Strawbridge and HACC student Rachel Fleagle hosted the lecture. Its speakers were HACC Pastry Arts professors Chef Tom Long and Chef Casey Callahan, and HACC Culinary Arts alumnus Chef Steve Gump II. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:19 p.m., 29 attendees tuned in on Zoom to learn the preparations and histories of Irish recipes, which the chefs prepared on-screen.

Of these recipes, an example was corned beef and cabbage prepared by Long. According to Long, corned beef’s name refers to “corning”, or curation of meats with big salt grains dubbed “corns”. Historically, Irish people frequently made corned beef out of servitude.

“A lot of times, they didn’t do it for themselves; they did it for the English, and they would use briskets,” Long said.

Long also informed viewers, that corned beef and cabbage is Irish American, not solely Irish.

After that, another featured recipe was soda bread prepared by Callahan. According to Callahan, soda bread is an Indigenous American invention that spread to Ireland, originating with the usage of ashes as baking sodas. Irish climates, Chef Casey explained, are conducive to “softer wheats” instead of the “hard wheats” that compose yeast. That plus yeast’s expensiveness in centuries past, Chef Casey informed, made baking soda an Irish “leavener”.

“They [Irish people] got into soda breads not so much because they loved it so much, but pretty much more out of poverty,” Chef Casey said.

A third featured recipe was colcannon, which is mashed potatoes mixed with greens, usually cabbage, prepared by Chef Steve Gump II.

“You want to cook your potatoes so they’re more tender; it makes them nice and easy to mash,” Chef Steve said.

Chef Tom then prepared “Reuben chowder” from the leftovers. A supervisor of The Chef’s Apprentice at HACC’s Harrisburg Campus’ Cooper Center, Chef Tom shared this recipe as a leftovers management strategy 

“This is kind of a trick that we do in the restaurant business,” Chef Tom said.

During the lecture, attendees listened quietly. They sent questions to a group chat, which Fleagle read aloud to the chefs.

“What is the difference between a soup and a stew?” one attendee said.

Another attendee asked for ingredient alternatives.

“Nitrates give me a migraine,” they said.

According to Chef Long, The Chef’s Apprentice presently holds lectures like this on the third Mondays of each month. Their next lecture will be April 19 Its theme will be Arab food.

For more information about The Chef’s Apprentice, email [email protected]. To access a video of this lecture, email [email protected] or [email protected]. For more information on Student Involvement, email [email protected].

Originally written in April 2021; the April 19 Chef Tom show has already occurred