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Chef instructor: Keep switching up holiday menus, but use reliable recipes

Stephen F. Austin State University

Stephen F. Austin State University chef instructor Todd Barrios never cooks the same holiday meal twice. The guests at his table are always guessing what he might come up with, perhaps brisket or shrimp and corn chowder.

“I don’t think you need to be afraid of trying new things. You never know when you’re going to find that new favorite. Sometimes, the trusty dishes that you’ve done for years and years, you never know if your guests are actually still enjoying them or not,” Barrios said.

Barrios teaches all the culinary arts courses for SFA’s hospitality administration degree. In his upper level food labs, students run a restaurant on campus and prepare a three-course meal for dozens of people twice a week.

Barrios says cooking has a lot to do with organization and planning. He says be financially prudent when planning a big meal for a crowd.

“With the cost of groceries going up consistently, if you wait until the last minute you’ll pay that top dollar for the turkey. But if you can plan accordingly ahead of schedule, you can get that turkey on a good sale, or the ham or something else you may want to try. Buy earlier in the season so you can freeze it and save it,” Barrios said.

Barrios is open to trying new recipes, but he looks for ones from reliable cooking websites with plenty of comments about the recipe at hand.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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