Guest Chef Series at UMass Amherst Opens With Joanne Weir of San Francisco Feb. 22

AMHERST, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Amherst students will get to meet and sample the work of three outstanding chefs in February and March as part of the Guest Chef Series in the Berkshire Dining Commons.

The series, managed by UMass Amherst Dining Services, starts Thursday, Feb. 22, from 5-9 p.m. with Joanne Weir, a San Francisco-based culinary expert. Weir is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, cooking teacher, chef and television personality. After graduating from UMass Amherst with a major in art education and teaching fine arts in Boston, Weir spent years cooking in Berkeley, Calif., and France before being awarded her master chef certificate.

The focus of Weir’s presentation will be flavor and wellness in Mediterranean and Italian dishes. Crispy shrimp cakes with lime tartar sauce, savory chicken, leek and feta pie with mountain herbs, and Tuscan roast pork will be featured on the menu.

The series will continue on Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 5-9 p.m. with Ralph Coughenour, executive chef for the University of New Hampshire. Coughenour will prepare some UNH student favorites. Coughenour and his assistant are visiting because the UMass Minutemen defeated UNH in the football playoffs, and the campus won a friendly food wager as a result.

On Monday, March 5 from 5-9 p.m., Betty Rosbottom, an Amherst resident, cooking teacher and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, will be the featured chef. Rosbottom is the author of “The Big Book of Backyard Cooking” and writes a weekly syndicated column called “That’s Entertaining” for Tribune Media Services.

Ken Toong, director of dining and retail food services, said the objective of the guest chef series is to provide students more selection. “Many of the recipes are healthy options such as Joanne Weir’s Mediterranean cooking, and they provide interest and fun as well. It is part of the goal to provide more restaurant-style food. Our students are excited to see their food prepared by guest chefs as seen on TV, and our staff benefits from training by these professionals by preparing the dishes according to their instructions.”

UMass Amherst Dining Services now operates the third-largest campus dining program in the country with 13,000 students on the campus meal plan.