The Food Issue

K-State teaches food safety in its Olathe kitchens

Updated: 2013-03-15T00:59:12Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

Chef Bryan Severns grabs a fistful of pizza dough and gently stretches it until he can almost see his fingertips on the other side.

“You can check the dough by ‘pulling a window pane,’” Severns tells 17 Forest View Elementary third-graders who are on a field trip to the gleaming, state-of-the-art K-State kitchens in Olathe.

The window trick helps bakers determine when the gluten development is complete. The surface of the dough should be smooth, like a Latex glove. If it tears easily, the dough requires more mixing.

Students, teachers and chaperones wearing aprons and hairnets are assigned to various stations around the kitchen to weigh flour, mix it into dough, portion it, roll it, top it and, finally, eat it.

A GPS might not know the way to 22201 W. Innovation Drive, home of the $28 million, 108,000-square-foot International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute building, but since August 2011 more than 3,300 students from across Johnson County have found the campus kitchens, which include cooking spaces for consumer sensory testing, as well as a theater kitchen and classrooms.

There are plans to add a working restaurant, but Severns stresses K-State is not trying to run a culinary school in Johnson County. “We try to use food as a vehicle to teach food safety, science and technology.”

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