Smiths Falls students explore global cultures through culinary delights

Students enjoying pad Thai at the SFDCI International Café. – Submitted photo

Students at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI) showcased the flavours and culture of Thailand during the latest installment of their International Café series on Wednesday, May 1.

Organized by SFDCI English as a Second Language Teacher Paul Merredew and Hospitality & Tourism Teacher Chef Jeff Burns, the event aimed to create an immersive dining experience while fostering cultural exchange.

The International Café pairs international students studying at SFDCI with the hospitality class to present a multi-course meal representing their home countries. Students and staff sampled authentic Thai dishes such as crispy garlic chive dumplings, pad Thai, chicken satay, green papaya salad, mango sticky rice, and pad kra pao, all prepared in collaboration with Thai students.

“Our version of the spicy pork was pretty bland,” admitted Burns. “The ladies from Thailand grabbed the chili oil and the garlic and let’s just say…they fixed it.”

“So far, the enthusiasm of the Japanese students, the Ukrainian students, the Spanish students, the Italian students, the German students and today, the Thai students indicate that the café’s are a hit with the international students,” stated Merredew in a media release. “And Smiths Falls students get to try foods they otherwise may never have tried and learn about countries from the people who live there.”

The event also included a presentation on various aspects of Thai culture, language and history, offering students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the country beyond its culinary delights. International student Pam Auakittikulchai expressed pride in showcasing Thailand’s beauty and gastronomy to her peers.

“I want other people to know Thailand because it has very beautiful places and has lots of tourist attractions,” she noted. “And the food is good!”

SFDCI Hospitality & Tourism student Reed King said he was excited for the opportunity to prepare a meal with his new friends from abroad.

“It means a lot to welcome the International Students and make them feel welcomed. I learned a lot about their culture and the food that they eat in Thailand.”

Merredew and Chef Burns are planning future Café lunches featuring students from Switzerland and the Philippines, with potential fundraising events on the horizon.

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