Cooking your way through college
Experiential learning is an integral part of being a Beloiter. Students across all departments initiate and organize their own special projects around topics they’re passionate about. Three students created the Himalayan Kitchen project to expand South Asian food options on campus.
The project informally began in fall 2022 with the group cooking meals together in the kitchen of the 609 residence hall and quickly expanded to accommodate walk-in orders from students. They have cooked momo dumplings, keema pav, biryani, and different variations on those dishes and others.
Since their cooking was so successful, Himalayan Kitchen creators Jagvi Dey’24, Abhey Singh Guram’24, and Abhishek Shekhar’24 decided to formally adopt it as an entrepreneurial special project for the spring semester. The Himalayan Kitchen accepts pre-orders now and has catered for students, professors, staff, and even campus clubs and organizations.
“In the future, we are planning to bring lamb chops, Afghanistani chicken, and South Asian bread, like rotis,” says Abhey.
The team describes their project as mimicking the creation and management of a small business, with CELEB director Brian Morello acting as their faculty advisor and investor. “It’s about learning how to be a part of a team,” Abhey says, “working and managing expectations in a group, learning to prioritize your time and resources and the things around you, and making the best out of it.”
Their majors range from computer science to quantitative economics, political science, and international relations. Although cooking may be unrelated to any of these departments, many crucial skills, such as writing and communication, were put into practice for other aspects of the project.
“All of us have very different skill sets, very different strengths, so I feel like this is a great experience for us to come together and collaborate, and then manage being friends and also working professionally,” Jagvi says. “We find ways to make our skills work for the objective.”
The project allows Abhey’s cooking skills to shine, while Jagvi executes marketing strategies by sending out advertisement emails in advance to let customers know when they’ll be cooking next. Abhey also works with Abhishek to cover the financial aspect, keeping track of the spreadsheets and profits.
“The best part is planning,” Abhishek says. “The night before is where we plan everything, like how many plates we want to sell and how we are going to solve that, and I think we are taking risks with things, so that’s exciting.”
At the Student Symposium on April 20, Abhey presented about what he and the rest of the Himalayan Kitchen team have learned. “This experience highlights the importance of a liberal arts education, emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, and practical application of knowledge in the real world,” he wrote in his abstract for the event.
Any student with a passion at Beloit can initiate their own special project or present on symposium day. “It is a commitment,” Jagvi says. “It is a collaboration. We’re working in the unknown a lot.” But in the end it’s worth it, not only for the learning experience, but also for the moments when customers say, “That was delicious.”