Cooking School on Safari

Robin Seeley  The students of the Culinary Academy of Post Street reflected on the planet’s wild creatures just in time for Earth Day.

Cooking School on Safari

The eighth session of the Culinary Academy of Post Street (CAPS) focused on a distant continent in distress: Africa. Most people have heard about the Minneapolis dentist who senselessly slaughtered Cecil, the rare black-maned lion. But Cecil was not the only rare animal on the savannah: many African species have drastically diminishing populations. Some are even completely extinct in the wild, with a few lone survivors still on display in zoos.

To hit this point home, CAPS pursued big game on a more modest scale. Each student chef adopted the persona of a favorite feral creature. They got to choose among the lion, giraffe, gorilla, elephant and rhinoceros. Thanks to some really cool cookie cutters, they then constructed 3-D animal buddies out of dough. The completed creatures got gussied up in frosting, candy sprinkles, and goofy eyes. Their fancy appearance stood in stark contrast to the grim reality of their endangered status. 

But we leavened the lecture about their impending doom: Leila, Roan, Enzo and Julian would get the chance to render their own exotic treats extinct, as well. Of course, it was understood that these are the only African wildlife that it’s OK to dismember and consume. 

By the end of class, the kids all appreciated that these beautiful creatures do not exist merely for our viewing pleasure in zoos. Their native habitats are disappearing, trophy hunters kill them for sport and ego gratification, and even well-meaning tourists trample their turf in jeeps and buses.

So, after gleefully consuming edible effigies of endangered fauna, we wanted to atone for the misdeeds of our own predatory species. The internet provided the perfect solution: World Wildlife Fund, aka WWF. It lets you “symbolically” adopt an endangered animal in Africa. CAPS students chose one of the species at greatest risk of extinction, the white rhino. For the record, that’s rhino with an “h,” not a swipe at a certain Republican candidate. 

Now we’re eagerly awaiting our official adoption certificate, stuffed rhinoceros toy, adoptee photo and other goodies sent in acknowledgement of our support. If you would like to do the same, check out this link: 


Robin Seeley is the Director-in-Residence at the Culinary Academy of Post Street.