Augustana’s Office of Diversity to Bring Culture into the Kitchen with New Series
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, otherwise known as Willette Capers, has a knack for finding new and innovative ways for the Augustana community to get to know one another. This time, it will surely ignite a few of your senses and memories by taking you back to your roots. Beginning on September 10, from 6-7 p.m., Capers is launching “Cooking Across Cultures” — a virtual series “about getting to know folks in our campus community while having them cook a dish that represents their self-identified culture.”
The Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion says the idea for “Cooking Across Cultures” stems from the group she eats lunch with on campus. When COVID-19 sent the Augustana community home in March, the virus didn’t stop them from meeting over Zoom — which might have brought them closer together.
“They found out my secret — that if I cook, I’m only eating once a day,” said Capers laughing. “We would be on this Zoom lunch and I would have my computer in the kitchen and here I am, cooking up a full meal. They’re like, ‘what are you doing?’ and, ‘oh, well, what are you adding here?’ We said, ‘this should be a cooking class,’ so I pretended it was a cooking show and then all of a sudden this bright idea came.”
Capers will livestream “Cooking Across Cultures” twice a month during Fall Semester 2020. And just like a cooking show, Capers has invited members of the Augustana community to join her at home and cook while diving into conversation. The meal will include something from the person’s culture that speaks to them; they will explain how to cook the dish while also telling Capers and the audience who they are and how their culture has shaped them as a person.
For Capers, this idea hits close to home. She says she’ll “never forget the last, most amazing taste” that she had — a pot of her father’s perlou rice that he made two days before he died. When he passed, after a long day, her family realized they still had some of his perlou left.
“We had some last little bits of him that we could have, and so that perlo rice will always stand out to me because it’s my dad, he was amazing at cooking it,” explained Capers.
Capers says some people call perlou rice “chicken bog” — her family’s version of rice and jambalaya in the low country; something she intends to make for “Cooking Across Cultures” in the last episode of the series near the end of the semester.
Here is the full list of “Cooking Across Cultures” special guests:
- September 10, Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Pilar Cabrera
- September 24, Taha Afzal ‘21
- October 8, Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Colin Irvine
- October 22, Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Sally Mallowa
- November 12, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Willette Capers
A link to the livestream will be posted at augie.edu/diversity. An edited version of the event will later be posted with credits and a list of ingredients.
Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations and communications strategist.