Caltech Chefs Share Their Favorite Dishes

Arches with plants and tables at sunset

Caltech Athenaeum (Photo –

If ever there was a time to get creative in the kitchen, this is it.

By Judy Hill

As the COVID-19 pandemic has us sequestered in our homes, some of us may have the urge to break out of our cooking routines and try something new. For members of the Caltech community near and far who miss the campus and its people, these recipes should help bring the spirit of Caltech right into your kitchens.

From Tom Mannion’s kitchen

For more than 25 years, Tom Mannion, senior director of student activities and programs, has been teaching cooking classes at Caltech and sharing his culinary expertise through demonstrations. For the spring term, Mannion is offering his popular Cooking Basics SA 16C as an online class without the normal class size limits.

Southern-style Biscuits

Last Thanksgiving, Mannion guided the residents of Caltech’s student houses through the process of preparing and presenting a feast to share and shared his simple recipe for Southern-style biscuits—as well as the underlying science behind the baking.

-- Soft Pretzels

If you have the stamina for another starchy snack, here is a recipe for soft pretzels that Mannion shared with the community at #CaltechTogether (formerly known as Caltech Giving Day), an April 2 online event to raise money for the Caltech Student Emergency Fund.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of water
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar

Dipping liquid
4 cups very hot water
5 teaspoons baking soda

Coarse pretzel salt


  • Preheat oven to 475°F
  • Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bread machine and run on the dough cycle (approximately 90 minutes)
  • Tear the dough into pieces, roll into sticks and twist into pretzels… there is no easy way to describe how, just trial and error!
  • Dip in the hot liquid for 15-30 seconds, flip once
  • Add coarse salt
  • Bake at 475°F approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.


Spice It Up

A dish with shrimp rolls, greenery and dipping sauce

Thai firecracker shrimp (Photo –

On her popular Use Real Butter food blog, Jennifer Yu (BS ’93) shares recipes, including this one for Thai firecracker shrimp, along with photos of her dogs and stories of her life and adventures in the Colorado Rockies.

Raise Your Glass

-- City of Stars
In 2017, the Caltech Associates team created a specialty drink for a reception they held at the Griffith Observatory.

1½ oz gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz lavender syrupTop off with Prosecco
Optional: splash of Sprite for added sweetness

-- The Disruptor

For a 2019 panel discussion titled “The New Disruptors of Wall Street,” the Caltech Associates offered this assertive libation.

2 oz Bacardi 8 rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz 2:1 demerara syrup
¼ oz maraschino liqueur
5-6 drops absinthe
1 dash Angostura bittersShake with ice, double strain into a cocktail glass.

-- Caltech Orange

Caltech Dining Services has created this distinctive and appropriately hued beverage for trustee and other Institute events.

1 part fresh squeezed lemonade
1 part fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ part sparkling mineral water (optional)
Dash of saltInfuse with fresh basil leaves overnight


A Sweet Finish

Berries in a glass on a fancy table with utensils and plates

Berries Athenaeum (Photo –

-- Berries Athenaeum

This classic Athenaeum recipe comes courtesy of Executive Chef Kevin Isacsson.
1½ pints vanilla bean ice cream
1½ cups mixed assorted fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
2 oz Grand Marnier
4 gaufrette cookies

Scoop the ice cream into four frozen stemmed glasses. Mix the berries together and spoon over the ice cream. Drizzle the Grand Marnier over everything and serve with the gaufrette cookie.

-- Devil’s Hoard Chocolate Souffle

Andrew Casteel (BS ’00), founder of Laughing Monk Brewing in San Francisco, offers a recipe for chocolate souffle made from Laughing Monk Devil’s Hoard imperial Belgian stout.

Hungry for more?

The Caltech Y is creating a platform for campus community members to share their favorite recipes, either through a document with instructions and photos or a homemade instructional video. Send your recipes, comments, or suggestions to


Source: Caltech

Guest Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *