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COA cooks with Chef Roberta

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Westwood seniors recently gathered at the COA at midmorning on Thursday, October 6, for a Thai cooking lesson with Chef Roberta Hing. The course covered a few simple dishes that could easily be replicated at home. 

Seniors eagerly jumped at the opportunity to spice up some basic ingredients and turn them into authentic Thai cuisine, and Chef Roberta was glad to direct them, simplifying restaurant-quality dishes through a demonstration punctuated with plenty of conversation.

The impressive menu included a one-pot chicken massaman curry, thai larb (or meat salad), and a coconut cake. Chef Roberta gave a cultural context, as these popular foods are eaten all around Thailand and the ingredients are easily obtainable. 

The foods were popular at the senior center, as well. 

Those in attendance relished the smell of aromatic curry as soon as it was scooped into the pot. The decadent coconut cake, meanwhile, was a hit even before it was even finished baking — seniors passed around the bowl and greatly enjoyed sampling the batter for a taste test.

Hing views food and cooking as a social hobby, and a way to share culture around the world. “Teaching cooking allows me to take it a step further,” she explained. “I am thrilled when my students send pictures of dishes that they made from our classes and tell me how much their families liked them.” In terms of working with seniors, Hing loves sharing ideas, recipes, and friendship. “The classes bring them together with others they may not know. In so many classes, I’ve seen new friendships formed. Often, it takes them out of their comfort zone and they are so happy that they joined in.”

For their parts, the seniors prided themselves on their work in the kitchen — and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

“Cooking for me has always been a way to express how much you care for people,” Chef Roberta succinctly explained. “When somebody has a new baby or is sick, I like to make them food.”

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