Lehigh Alum who followed her heart.

We at ArtsLehigh love to eat. We consider food an art whether it’s a delicately plated taste of precisely prepared ingredients, or a dish from a far away culture or time. We are lucky enough to have a fully functional kitchen in our building. From time to time, we’ll cook an aromatic soup or bake up some welcoming muffins for our guests. Because we can.

Food is one of the signatures of our building. We don’t cook every day. We are humble in our offerings; welcoming all guests with a little bite to eat with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea. Over the past six years, we’ve developed a standard list of soups and muffins. We’ve had colleagues occasionally cook in our kitchen for social gatherings. The last gathering was a great conversation over crepes made by a real French native on our faculty.

While the summer nights stay hot and the art on campus cooled off a bit, we look for inspired ideas to add to our lists of “maybe next year” by watching a few of our favorite cooking shows. We stumbled upon a recent discovery of a Lehigh graduate who followed her heart, and wound up on one the the most popular programs on summer television.

If you’re not following the latest Food TV Network Star competition show, you’re missing a chance to root for Lehigh University graduate, Whitney Chen.

Whitney graduated from Lehigh University in 2005 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Two years ago, she quit her engineering consultant job, and received a culinary certificate from L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Md., and worked her way up the culinary ladder to the line at a Three Michelin Star restaurant in New York City. Her bio on the FoodTV network website states: “A serious home cook turned professional chef, Whitney enjoys using the freshest seasonal ingredients in her cooking and believes that anyone can incorporate advanced techniques into making everyday meals that impress.” Want to know more? Watch her bio video from the Food TV program site. Or really fall in love with her by watching her casting video.

What Whitney is interested in sharing, is accessible advanced instruction into cooking techniques for serious home cooks. If she can teach us how to make avocado mousse, we’ll be serving Taco Tuesdays for the next year.

Watching Whitney get through each cooking and camera challenge has been a real treat. On last night’s episode, she won the first challenge by warming up Bobby Flay’s interest in her story of cooking for her sorority sisters (Delta Gamma).

On June 5th, 2011, Lehigh Express Times writer Kelly Huth wrote a review of the season opener in which Chen was announced as a competitor. We’ve been glued to our televisions every Sunday at 9pm. We even started following her on twitter (@whittybites) to read her tweets during each episode. We simply couldn’t be prouder of a Lehigh grad who took a risk to follow her heart. We wish her the best. And instead of crossing our fingers, we’re voting for her. You can too, right here.

Should the Lehigh Brownie ever get old (perish the thought), we’ll scratch up a sheet of Texas cake for you. Or maybe Whitney will inspire us to take a few risks in our kitchen. (as long as we don’t upset the office of Risk Management, we know)

Good luck, Whitney!

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