There's nothing like mom's cooking

Jennifer Greenstein Altmann

Recipe has the right ingredients for a prize and an unexpected visitor from Germany

Princeton NJ -- Ulla Vilkman and her daughter, Rosa Poetes '05, huddled over a platter of chicken in the Rockefeller College kitchen with the University's executive chef, Robert Harbison, for a chat about rosemary.

Rosa Poetes '05 entered her mother's chicken recipe in a contest sponsored by Dining Services and the Undergraduate Student Government and won the ultimate prize -- a visit from her mother, Ulla Vilkman, who lives in Germany.


The chef was getting some tips on Vilkman's recipe for Mediterranean chicken with herbs and orange, which won first place in the "There's No Place Like Home" recipe contest, sponsored by Dining Services and the Undergraduate Student Government. Poetes submitted her mother's recipe and won $250 toward the cost of bringing her mother to Princeton from her home in Germany.

"I'm happy to be here and to see how nice this university is," Vilkman said. "I'm happy my daughter is studying here."

This is Vilkman's first visit to the United States. Back in Germany, she is known for her skills in the kitchen. "Lots of friends and relatives call before Christmas, asking, 'How do I make this dish?'" said her daughter, who was excited to have her mother here for a week-long visit.

Harbison said he liked Vilkman's dish because "it feels like something that mom made." His colleague Brad Ortega, unit chef at Butler and Wilson colleges, said the dish "has a lot of flavors, like fresh herbs and fennel. There's a lot going on." A cold salad made with fennel, mandarin oranges and fresh herbs is served with the chicken, which is rubbed with rosemary, fennel, thyme and sage. A sauce made from orange juice, chicken stock and cream accompanies the chicken.

Vilkman stopped by the kitchen at Rockefeller on May 13 to preview the first batch of the dish and review the recipe with the chefs. Harbison asked her if the fennel was sliced too thick -- "Maybe a little," Vilkman said -- and whether the sauce had enough orange. She dipped in a spoon and tasted it. "You need a little more orange," she said. "And it's good if you cook a little bit of rosemary with the broth."

Vilkman's dish was served for dinner at all the dining halls and at Food for Thought in the Frist Gallery on May 14. The other winners also were featured on the menu. The second place winner, Jennifer Grojean '05, submitted a recipe for rum cake. Third place went to Jessica Aisenbrey '05 for her curried garbanzo bean salad. Jenitta Kwong '04 won honorable mention for "The Pe'consummate' Berry Cheesecake."

The recipes will be posted on the Dining Services' Web site <>. And Vilkman's recipe also will be available on the Web site for Tyson Foods, which paid for part of her travel expenses.

Several of the dishes may become regulars in the dining halls. For Poetes, it will be nice to go to dinner and see her mother's dish on the menu. "She's the best cook I know," Poetes said.

May 20, 2002
Vol. 92, No. 27
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Page one
Stein chosen to receive National Medal of Science
Anne-Marie Slaughter named Woodrow Wilson School dean

Math analysis could aid flu vaccine selection
There's nothing like mom's cooking
Universitywide public events calendar launched on Web
Keeping it short: Richardson distills wit in aphorisms
Book marks 50th year of Forrestal Campus

People, spotlight, briefs
Three named Goldwater Scholars

Nassau Notes
By the numbers
Calendar of events

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Editor: Ruth Stevens
Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller
Staff writers: Jennifer Greenstein Altmann, Steven Schultz
Contributing writers: Marilyn Marks, Evelyn Tu
Photographer: Denise Applewhite
Design: Mahlon Lovett, Laurel Masten Cantor, Megan Peterson
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