Student Recipes Spice Up Black History Month Menu Options

University Culinary Services celebrates diverse Kent State community by bringing a taste of home to campus

In a celebration of Black History Month, Kent State University Culinary Services has transformed the month’s menu into a melting pot of different dishes. Led by Executive Chef Edward Shawn Hardin Sr., Culinary Services is offering a unique menu built upon students’ family recipes, highlighting the diversity of Black history.

Edward Hardin Sr Fellows headshot

Sarah Korzan, registered dietitian and assistant director of University Culinary Services, stresses the importance of representation in campus menu options.  

"Food is a deeply personal expression of culture and identity," Korzan said. "It's our goal to ensure that every student feels a sense of home and belonging through the food we serve on campus.”

Culinary Services began its search for recipes in November through social media, inviting students to share their favorite recipes. Fourteen students submitted recipes and Hardin began developing the menu.

Hardin made some modifications to include gluten-free and vegan options, ensuring that all students can celebrate the month together. The recipe Hardin is most looking forward to is adapted to serve as a gluten-free option.  

“The southern-fried catfish is a recipe we had to modify. We're going to make it with cornmeal and gluten-free flour. It won’t change the taste; it won’t change anything. It just gives more people the opportunity to try something new,” Hardin said.  

A plate of baked mac and cheese

Submissions including brown sugar fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, red beans with rice, and red velvet cake have already made appearances. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday a new recipe has been integrated into the menu, sprinkling Black culture into each bite.  

Black History Month hasn’t always looked like this for Culinary Services. It has taken several years to develop into the celebration that exists today.  

Sophomore Fashion Design major Timothy Green with is Brown Sugar Fried Chicken
Sophomore fashion design major Timothy Green is pictured with his recipe Brown Sugar Fried Chicken, which Culinary Services brought to life.

“We’ve been doing these menus for three years now. For the first year, I focused on Martin Luther King. I researched his background, his favorite things to eat and the places he went,” Hardin said. “For the second year, we reached out to students, but we didn't get that many replies, so I just went through and gathered some recipes that I grew up with and put them on the menu. This year we started early, and we got a lot of submissions from students.”

Although there were plenty of submissions, they all had animal products. Hardin hopes for more vegan recipes next year.  

“I'm big on vegan recipes, and I did not receive one,” Hardin said. “That goes to show that growing up, being plant-based wasn't the big thing like it is now.”

This year’s success inspires Hardin to continue to expand the month’s celebrations.  

“Maybe in the future we could do maybe more than three days a week,” Hardin said. “If we have more recipes, maybe we can have one every day for the entire month.”

Outside of Black History Month celebrations, representation in food is something culinary services will always prioritize. Korzan recognizes this is especially important at Kent State.  

“We have a lot of representation from different countries and regions at Kent State, especially for an Ohio school,” Korzan said. “It really is important to us that everyone feels at home when eating at our dining locations. Everyone deserves to see their culture represented in our menus.”

View the Culinary Services menus.

See all the ways Kent State is celebrating Black history this month.

Banner image: Sophomore Fashion Design major Timothy Green is pictured next to Culinary Services Cook DeVante D. Williams with Timothy’s submission of Brown Sugar Fried Chicken.  

POSTED: Thursday, February 15, 2024 10:06 AM
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2024 11:31 AM
Maddie Goerl, Flash Communications
Culinary Services