As Boston University continues to digitize its events and promote virtual participation throughout the Fall semester, the traditional Weeks of Welcome activities at the beginning of term have moved online to include students living on campus and off.
These included a cooking demonstration Friday from Alison Fong of Boston’s Bon Me food truck. The event, “Dorm Cooks with Chef Alison Fong,” featured five recipes students can cook using the microwaves in their dorm rooms. The preparations included a spicy ginger lemonade, a poached chicken and a quick pickle, which is a cut vegetable soaked in vinegar.
The 2001 College of Arts and Science alum said she did not make use of the cooking resources in her residence when she was an undergraduate at BU, but now hopes to teach students quick tips she herself hadn’t known.
“I was never particularly creative with using my microwave in my dorm room,” Fong said at the beginning of the event. “So I actually had to ask some friends and my brother, who also went to BU, what they cooked [for this event], and I also tried to incorporate a few Bon Me touches into this menu.”
Fong, with business partner Patrick Lynch, opened the first of eight Bon Me food trucks in 2011 after winning the City of Boston’s Food Truck Contest. The eatery specializes in “Asian-inspired eats” — Fong said Bon Me’s name actually derived from a Vietnamese dish, which she wished to bring to Boston.
“I always really loved Vietnamese sandwiches, bánh mì sandwiches,” Fong said in an interview. “At that time, in 2011, they were not widely available in the city of Boston.”
Bánh mì, pronounced the same as Bon Me, is a baguette filled with meat, pickled vegetables and cilantro. The food truck, which also offers fried rice, pho and bubble tea, occasionally parks outside of BU’s College of Communication on weekdays, but has not been on campus in recent months.
Taylor Sevigny, associate director of the Student Activities Office, said she thought it was important to have Fong virtually present her culinary expertise at her alma mater during BU’s welcome festivities.
“We had seen Ali featured in a recent BU Today article talking about the Boston restaurant scene and how that’s impacting local restaurants,” Sevigny said. “Ali is an alum, so we thought it would be great to continue to spotlight on her and showcase her work and keep including her in the BU community.”
This was not the first Dorm Cooks event BU has hosted, nor will it be the last — Sevigny said these tutorials may be introduced as a recurring series for students to continue to learn from Boston chefs about how they can cook with limited amenities in on-campus dorms.
Pratima Vaidyanathan, a junior in the College of Engineering, attended Dorm Cooks and wrote in a Facebook message that though she does not have a kitchen in her dorm, she wanted to learn how to make her own meals and rely less on the dining hall.
“The lemonade recipe was probably my favorite part,” Vaidyanathan wrote, “because it was something I know how to make normally, but adding the ginger was a cool twist that I hadn’t thought about trying on my own.”
Sunny Zhao, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, wrote in a Facebook message that he tuned in because he enjoys Bon Me’s food and appreciates how the company was formed.
“They have a cool menu that combines food from different cultures,” Zhao wrote. “I wanted to learn more about how I could incorporate that into my own cooking.”