MSU Chefs to Compete in Cassoulet Challenge to Celebrate the International Year of Pulses

Published On: October 18, 2016

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Michigan State University (MSU) Culinary Services chefs will engage in a friendly competition, the Cassoulet Culinary Challenge, in honor of the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

The IYP aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed toward food security and nutrition. Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket and help to address obesity and manage chronic conditions.

On Thursday, dining teams on campus will create their own cassoulet dish using Michigan-grown cannellini beans from Carlson-Arbogast Farms in Howard City. The recipes will then be judged by representatives from the MSU Legume Innovation Lab and the Michigan Dry Bean Industry.

Students and other campus diners will have the opportunity to taste the unique dishes at dinner on Oct. 20 at any of the challenge locations, which include The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips, South Pointe at Case, The Edge at Akers, Heritage Commons at Landon, The Vista at Shaw and the Eat at State ON-THE-GO Food Truck.

“Our program is all about variety, which includes serving authentic dishes from other countries,” said Guy Procopio, director of Culinary Services. “The declared Year of the Pulses is a unique opportunity for us to educate diners on the benefits of pulse-based proteins and encourage them to explore a new culture through food.”

“Michigan’s dry bean farmers are proud to grow nutritious and delicious food that’s enjoyed by folks across Michigan and around the world,” said Joe Cramer, executive director of the Michigan Bean Commission. “We deeply appreciate our partners at Michigan State University for showcasing a few of the ways dry beans can be enjoyed – and for serving Michigan-grown beans at MSU.”

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin and white beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.

Kurt Kwiatkowski, Culinary Services corporate chef, described cassoulet as one of the first French dishes that really wowed him. “It’s simple, yet has so much flavor,” he said. “We serve ham and bean soup, or beans as a side dish; but in cassoulet, they’re intricately woven into a full dish, and I thought it would be a lot of fun for our team.”

Judging for the event will be held at The Vista at Shaw at 5:30 p.m. Registered Dietitian Kelsey Patterson representing the Michigan Bean Commission, Chuck Lippstreu representing Michigan’s dry bean industry, and students from the MSU Legume Innovation Lab will serve as judges.

Culinary Services is a department within the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services at Michigan State University. For more information, visit, like Eat at State on Facebook and follow @eatatstate on Twitter.