Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of visiting Professor Karen Jacobs’ quaint Stuvi2 apartment while she hosted her weekly ‘Sargent Choice Test Kitchen’. Professor Jacobs teaches Occupational Therapy in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at BU. Essentially, the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen is a weekly group cooking activity for all who come to lend a hand. Professor Jacobs receives recipes from the dietitians down at Sargent College and tests them out in the comfort of her own home. One of its main objectives is to teach students how to lead a healthy lifestyle on a college-student budget with healthy and affordable recipes. But, the experience goes way beyond just learning how to cook.
Professor Jacobs started the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen (‘SCTK’) 6 years ago when she moved into Student Village 2 and had access to a full kitchen in her apartment. “As a professor you don’t really get to see students outside the classroom, so it’s fun,” she told me, “I wanted to work on healthy behaviors, and I wanted to do healthy eating.”
As people started to arrive, they came bearing gifts and hugs for Professor Jacobs. Many of the attendees were regulars, coming each week SCTK meets, grad and undergrad students alike. Jasper Zhao, Questrom ’16 grad, has been coming to the Test Kitchen since he came to BU from China in 2014. “I was looking for places to make new friends and learn more about American culture,” Jasper said, “it’s like my family away from China…Karen [Jacobs] is like my mom.” Even some new comers, like myself and a few other first-timers, felt right at home in the friendly and welcoming atmosphere Professor Jacobs provided.
In between the hustle and bustle of chatter and cooking, I was able to grab a few words from Annette Ayzichek, CAS ’17, about her time at Sargent Choice Test Kitchen over the past few years.
About a half-hour after I arrived, students started to pour into Jacobs’ apartment and help themselves to a cup of tea and some friendly conversation. Everyone donated a helping hand where they could, whether it was chopping up cauliflower, dicing onions, or blending spices together for what would eventually become a delicious serving of cauliflower rice.
Graduate students of the Boston University Medical School, Tamara Barboza and Yashar Rahimpour, cut up cauliflower together at the kitchen table while enjoying Professor Jacobs’ twenty-third story view of downtown Boston and the Charles River. “We’ve been coming since last semester,” Barboza shared.
The two said their favorite aspect about coming back each week is the homey atmosphere and meeting new people while getting a break from school and studying.
As more students arrived, you could hear the laughter and smell the asian-stir-fry-style cauliflower rice from all the way down the hall. Professor Jacobs provides a home-like atmosphere for students far away from home, whether that may be as close as Brookline or as far as China. She gives them a space to learn more about healthy living and meet dozens of new faces around the BU campus. I can’t wait to return to her kitchen so I can lend a hand in making a delicious meal while making some new friends, and seeing some familiar faces.
Professor Jacobs hosts the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen every week in her Stuvi2 home, located in apartment 2302 at 33 Harry Agganis Way. For more information to attend, you can check the Boston University Events Calendar or contact Karen Jacobs at email@example.com.