The 20th Annual Board of Water and Light Chili Cook-off will take place this Friday, June 5, at Adado Riverfront Park from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Teams from Residential Dining, South Neighborhood and The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips are set to compete – their sights set on a gold ladle!

During the event, teams from local restaurants, businesses, non-profits and organizations compete for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau Hospitality Award or for the gold, silver or bronze ladle in categories including: Best Chili, Most Creative Chili Name, Most Creative Chili Booth, Best Salsa, Best Meatless Chili and Best White Bean Chicken Chili. Proceeds from the event benefit Impression 5 Science Center/Adopt A River, the H.O.P.E. Scholarship Connections Program and the Sparrow Foundation.

The South Neighborhood team competed against other Culinary Services Neighborhood teams in a Chefs Council Chili Cook-off this past March. Their brisket chorizo chili took first place and earned them the ability to represent Culinary Services. The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips also competed and is representing Culinary Services for best salsa with a roasted vegetable salsa.

The Chili Cook-Off theme this year is Chiliwood – a Hollywood theme. The Culinary Services booth will be decorated with a Hollywood Walk of Fame theme, complete with make-your-own-Hollywood-star activity.

Stop by booth 13 at the BWL Chili Cook-off to support our teams! In addition, there will be live music played by local musicians and bands, a merchandise tent and a chili dog eating contest.

Past BWL Chili Cook-off booth
The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips BWL Chili Cook-off booth in 2013.

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

By Gina Keilen, Culinary Services Registered Dietitian 

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. I don’t think you need a dietitian to tell you that fruits and veggies are good things to eat … that’s a pretty known fact. But where some of the hang up might be is in the fresh part.

While this time of the year, fresh fruits and veggies in Michigan are either at their prime or just around the corner, there are many months in Michigan when that’s not the case. So how can you get around that? If they aren’t in season, consider buying them canned, frozen or dried.

Getting fruits or veggies in forms other than fresh is not a bad thing at all. It might actually be better for you. Especially in the months when Michigan produce is not the best, those alternatives were packed or dried at their peak nutritional value so they are likely to have more vitamins and minerals than off-season fresh foods. Not only that, but buying produce out of season can be costly and with most people on college campuses counting pennies, the other varieties may help. Canned, frozen or dried fruits and veggies also have longer shelf lives. There is nothing more disappointing than buying so much fresh food with good intentions, just to throw them out because you didn’t eat them before they spoiled.

June is getting us closer to fresh produce in Michigan, though. Farmers markets are opened, grocery stores are highlighting local farmers, the MSU Student Organic Farm is working hard as usual. Keep an eye out for the Bailey GREENHouse & Urban Farm to start supplying some produce for Brody’s salad bar. There is fresh fruit (both whole and cut up) available in all our dining halls at all three meals. Try topping your pancakes or waffles with fruit or add it to cereals, dig into a freshly made smoothie, pile on the veggies in your pasta bowl or stir-fry, or visit Sparty’s for a veggie cup or 100 percent fruit and vegetable drink. The new salads offered with Combo-X-Change is a great way to get your veggies in! 

It doesn’t matter which way you eat your fruits and veggies … something is better than nothing and if it gets you to eat them, that’s a good thing!

Gina Keilen pull quote.

Gina Keilen is a registered dietitian and culinary coordinator for Culinary Services. If you have food allergies or intolerances, or are required to follow a special diet, Gina can help provide you with resources and information to help you make safe choices while still having a great dining experience when you Eat at State. Gina can also help you to eat healthy—our dining halls offer an incredible amount of all-you-care-to-eat options. Since many of our platforms offer made-to-order dining, you are in control of what you eat and how much, and Gina can help you decide what is right for you.


By Peggy Crum, MA, RD, Health4U Nutritionist

Photo of perchMeasured against their perch family cousin the walleye, yellow perch are small fries, 4 to 10 inches in length and weighing ¼ to ½ pound. Also called perch or lake perch, adding color to their name makes it aptly descriptive of this yellow-bodied fish with prominent dark vertical stripes. They travel in schools and move shoreward each morning and evening. This feeding pattern and the fact that they will bite on just about anything makes them the most frequently caught game fish in Michigan.

If you’re not fishing, just buying, check out farmers markets in Meridian Township, East Lansing and Flint for yellow perch transported fresh from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There are eight to 12 single fillets per pound. They appear translucent, not white or cloudy, and not fishy smelling. Keep them well-chilled until ready to prepare.

To best appreciate the mild flavor of this firm-fleshed fish, be sure to keep the preparation method simple. A traditional cooking method for yellow perch is to pan fry it. I particularly love a light breading mix of flour, fine-grind cornmeal and seasonings (paprika, white pepper and salt).

First, remove the skin from each fillet using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife: hold onto the tail skin with one hand and insert the knife blade between the skin and the flesh, move the knife blade quickly away from your holding hand to remove the fillet from the skin.

Next, soak the fillets in milk while preparing the breading mix and oil. Thoroughly preheat a heavy pan over medium heat then add canola oil. Roll each fillet in the flour mixture and place in the hot oil. Leave the fillets plenty of room to swim around in the oil, in other words, don’t crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown. Serve with an acidic garnish such as a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of dill sauce.

Join Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, at the Demonstration Kitchen in Brody Square as he demonstrates his perch with mango salsa during the Health4U Recipe for Health programTry the perch during lunch at Brody Square and Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall.

Can’t make it to Brody Square for the event? Join us online for an MSU Alumni Association LENS live stream presentation. Learn more by watching this trailer and view the live stream here:


On Saturday, April 25, the Michigan State University on-campus Starbucks team braced cold weather and wind to participate in a community service project working with the City of East Lansing Environmental Stewardship Program.

The team cleaned up flower beds and planted new flowers at the East Lansing Soccer Complex donor gardens located on Coleman Road. Twenty student volunteers weeded, edged and planted perennials that will pop up each spring at the complex.

Heather Surface, environmental stewardship coordinator for the City of East Lansing Parks, Recreation and Arts Department, shared that the department has received several “thank yous” for the efforts put forth by the Environmental Stewardship Program and the MSU Starbucks team.

“We are proud to partner with the City of East Lansing Environmental Stewardship Program,” said Michelle Pell, MSU Culinary Services Starbucks service manager. “The MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement connected us with the program last year, when the Starbucks team cleaned up White Hills Park. The partnership is fun and rewarding and we look forward to another community service project next semester.”

To view photos from the project, visit the East Lansing Healthy Parks Facebook page.

Starbucks team members cleaning flower beds at East Lansing Soccer Complex.


By Peggy Crum, MA, RD, Health4U Nutritionist

ChivesChives are the smallest member of the onion (allium) family with bulbs so tiny you may not have noticed them. Ever wonder how they differ from scallions (green onions)? Both are alliums but chives are grown for their narrow green leaves and globes of lavender blossoms whereas scallions are grown for their white bulbs and green stalks. Chives are perennial. Scallions must be replanted each spring. Scallions are mild with more of a bite than delicately flavored chives. Scallions can be cooked but not chives—their flavor seems to disappear with cooking.

Choose chives with long slender leaves and fresh purple or pink flowers. Chives typically flower in cool weather so bunches of chives in the market may or may not have flowers included. Avoid bunches with yellowing leaves or flowers with brown on the tips of the petals. To store, wrap the roots in a damp paper towel then cover the base loosely with a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator. Chives freeze well—just slice as desired and seal in an airtight bag.

You could try your hand at growing your own. Perfect for container gardening, chives thrive just about anywhere as long as they have well-drained soil and sunshine. Cut off a few leaves at a time or a whole bunch. They like to be cut back completely, within an inch or two of the base, about every four to six weeks.

Chives have such delicate leaves that they tend to get bruised and mashed when chopped using a typical rocking motion. Instead, align chives in a bunch on a cutting board, place the tip of a very sharp knife in front of the bunch, and pull the blade slowly across them. Snipping with scissors works well, too.

Use fresh or frozen chives like any other herb. Gently stir them in at the end of cooking or sprinkle on top as a garnish. Use chive blossom petals to sprinkle on salads for a similar flavor as the leaves only milder.

Join Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, at the Demonstration Kitchen in Brody Square as he demonstrates his chive rolls with compound butter recipe during the Health4U Recipe for Health program.

Can’t make it to Brody Square for the event? Join us online for an MSU Alumni Association LENS live stream presentation. Learn more by watching this trailer and view the live stream here: