“Lucky” Students Ring in Lunar New Year with Interactive Lesson on Chinese Culture and Dumplings


Thomas Povinelli

Mandarin teacher Harmony Waldron shows students the proper dumpling pinching technique at a Lunar New Year celebration, held in the culinary classroom on Jan. 25, 2023.

Emily Lindsey, Staff Reporter

The enticing smell of ginger-umami sauce filled the air of the culinary classroom as students celebrated the Lunar New Year with an interactive lesson on the Year of the Rabbit and how to make dumplings on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Chef Thomas Povinelli, the culinary club advisor, and Harmony Waldron, the Mandarin teacher, cohosted the lesson for students from the culinary club, Mandarin classes and Spanish Honors Society, all of whom were lucky enough to taste the results of their efforts during the event.

Spanish Honors Society member Abigail Lindsey gave the dumplings rave reviews. “The pork dumplings were amazing; the flavors were strong and a little sweet,” she said. “It was cool to learn the folding technique for wrapping up the dumpling, as I’ve never done that before.”

“The dumpling filling was a mixture of ground pork, soy sauce, fresh ginger, napa cabbage and a little bit of olive oil,” Povinelli explained. “We used wonton wrappers due to the time constraints and wrapped them up with a pinching technique so that they didn’t break open.” Povinelli noted there was also a turkey dumpling option for students who can’t eat pork.

Povinelli explained that ginger is a key ingredient in Chinese culture. It is used to represent the principles of yin and yang, or balance in Chinese culture. Its presence in the dumpling, which is considered a lucky food for the new year, gives it an authentic taste.

“We use it a lot here too,” Povinelli said. “It’s very good for your heart and bloodstream. Not only is it good for your heart and bloodstream, but it also helps with curbing nausea and its anti-inflammatory properties. It promotes health and adds a punch to any dish.”

While many students remarked that the technique Waldron taught for pinching the dumplings was a highlight from this event, they said they also learned a lot about Chinese food and culture in general.

Povinelli agreed, adding that the gathering was more about togetherness and unity than it was about technicalities. “We had a plethora of multiethnic students in the kitchen; we all got to learn about Chinese culture and have fun,” he said.

“The Year of the Rabbit is about contemplation, relaxation, positivity and self-protection,” Povinelli said. “I think Ms. Waldron and I created the perfect environment for that on Wednesday.”