Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I mentioned the other day how I ate vegan food at school. Well chef Rosana Rios is the main reason why. Here is a profile piece I wrote on her for class:

Thirteen trays of samosas were stacked towards the back of the Zorn Dining Commons. The puff pastries were cooked to perfection, along with the coconut sauce that was made to be poured on top.

For a side dish, cooked butternut squash with raisins rested in a pan. As the Indian food was ready to be served, Vegan chef Rosana Rios stood there donning her white chef’s coat and black hat.

“This caught my attention,” Senior Liselle Milazzo said, motioning to the samosas. “It was so fantastic.” Milazzo said after returning for seconds.

Students lined up to await the cuisine of the night that Rios prepared.

All 156 samosas were gone before the night was finished.

Rosana Rios has been the chef at the Vegan station for two years, and her food is well known.

Another vegan chef at the DC, Kristin Putnam says that double the amount of students eat the food Rios prepares, than when Putnam is working.

Rios has lived in America for 11 years.

She was born and raised in Columbia, where she was one of nine children.

Her mom was a single mother, and with the help of her children, she owned a restaurant. Rios and her siblings would wake up every morning at 5 to start prepping for the day.

“We all took turns helping out, we all rotated with the different jobs,” Rios said.

That is when Rios knew that she wanted to have a career in cooking.

“I learned how to cook from her,” Rios said.

She had met her first husband in Aruba. When they got married, she moved up to Massachusetts where he lived.

Now Rios resides in Peterborough with her second husband. The two of them have met while Rios worked at her previous job.

She was a chef at a hospital where the patients were brain damaged. Even if they weren’t able to communicate with her, the patients always enjoyed her food.

“It makes me feel good when people like my cooking,” Rios said.

She and her husband enjoy spending their free time cooking.

“My husband likes to cook,” Rios said. “He makes taquitos.”

When Christmas time rolls around, Rios wishes she could be back home with her family.

“We all go into one house, and we play merengue music and eat pork,” Rios said. “I miss days with my family.”

Fortunately for Rios, having Skype makes it easy to communicate with them.

Rios explains that in order to move back home to Columbia, she hopes to make enough money here so she could open her own restaurant.

“I want to open my own business,” Rios said. “Like a Texas Road House,”

Rios envisions serving American food at the restaurants while the waitresses dress as cowgirls with the boots and hat.

“There would be hamburgers, steaks, and ribs,” Rios said.

Since they do not have many American restaurants back in Columbia, she is confident that her business will be successful.

“If we do that, we will make a lot of money."

For now, Rios is going to stay here at Keene State, where she will continue serving vegan food to college students.

When Rios first started here, she had never cooked vegan before. Her boss Richard Ducharme, explained which spices go with what cuisines, and she quickly understood the jist of the meals she will be preparing.

“The new flavor profiles that she has learned have just been added to an already broad base of culinary abilities,” Ducharme said.

Co-worker Kristin Putnam enjoys the food that Rios makes.

“She has a really good knowledge for putting flavors together,” Putnam said.

Putnam says that she overheard an employer saying that Rios was the best chef in the Dining Commons. Putnam agrees with that statement and says that she emulates her cooking style.

“She’s super talented,” Putnam says. “I look at her cooking and think "Why can’t I do this?"

Her coworkers notice how passionate about her job she is through all her hard work.

“She is the happiest, most productive person on staff,” said Ducharme “She brings that same cheerful disposition to both co-workers and guests.”

“She is always so happy,” Putnam said.

Some of the foods that Rios prepares for the students are macaroni and cheese, coconut curry rice noodles, and tempeh stir fry.

“Her food is the closest thing to homemade that you will have,” senior Kara Massimo said.

Not only does she hope students enjoy her food, but she wants the students to eat a well-balanced meal.

“You need to eat good,” Rios said. “I want to make sure they are eating their starch, proteins, and veggies.”

Ducharme, along with the rest of the staff is grateful for everything Rios has done, and he couldn’t ask for a better employee.

“I am pleased she is as well received as she is and truly enjoys her work on a daily basis,” Ducharme said. “She is a true advocate for the students that visit and enjoy her creations as well as a shining example of the benefits that conversation between her and her guests can reap.”

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