Mushroom risotto, French macarons, banana bread french toast, and oven–baked chicken wings are just a few of the recipes Rachel Prokupek, Wharton junior and Le Cordon Bleu alum, developed for Whisk, the latest Penn–produced cookbook.
Inspiration for the cookbook started last fall as Penn Appétit launched the 21st edition of their magazine. “At 21 we’re kind of an adult now…what should we do with that? It was time for a cookbook,” explains Rachel Prokupek (W ’20) executive director of Penn Appétit. Penn Appétit, the nation’s oldest college food magazine, puts out a semesterly print magazine and maintains a blog of recipes and restaurant reviews in addition to hosting an open cooking club.
What started as an idle dream quickly became an intense year–long project for the club. Recruitment for Whisk began last September. Penn Appétit sent out applications to the student body in search for the best chefs on campus and picked twelve from a pool of nearly 70 applicants. “We have a team of talented chefs who’ve worked in kitchens from New York to Paris to here in Philadelphia,” says Rachel, naming restaurants Abe Fisher, Zahav, and Talula's Garden.
Team assembled, the real work began. Each student chef developed at least three recipes, turning dorms into test kitchens, perfecting each recipe three times before the final photoshoot.
“We spent weekend mornings in Addams Hall setting up the shoot, photographing the food, blasting music, and of course eating the food afterwards,” says Noel Zheng (C ’20), photography director. To perfect their photography style, the club consulted Alex Lau from Bon Appétit Magazine for a crash–course in avant garde food photography.
From cooking to photography to layout and marketing, the project is entirely student–run. “For the entire year we worked on the branding of the cookbook, developing recipes, photographing recipes. We were reaching out to Penn alumni in the food industry to write forwards for the different sections,” explains culinary director Jen Higa (C ’20). “Our chefs are also full–time students so it was challenge balancing time for developing recipes, testing and retesting them, then holding hours of photo shoots on weekends."
Recipes are broken down by occasion into four sections: brunch, picnic, dinner party, and post–festivity (aka indulgent food). “We wanted the book to be cohesive but also highlight the unique dishes of our chefs,” Rachel noted. 125 pages later and their dream is now a reality. The first 100 hardcover editions go to print next week, selling for $25 each. They are sure to run out in their limited first release, so get your copy now.
You can pre–order Whisk on their website from October 1–14 or snag a copy at Penn Appétit’s launch party on October 18 at the ICA, 7 p.m.–9 p.m. At the launch party, there will be hors d'oeuvres and samplings of the dishes from Whisk prepared by the Penn Appétit team.