Maggie Betkowski ’21 Arts Editor
Having more time due to being stuck in quarantine has given many the opportunity to use food as a way to cope and connect to family. Especially for Mercersburg Academy students, cooking is a new skill that is more and more necessary as the beloved Ford Dining Hall can no longer serve them a variety of tasty meals prepared by the Sage Dining staff. While students are sure to miss Sage, they have the time and opportunity not only to learn how to cook but to explore the art of cooking.
Davis Anderson ’20 is using this time to delve more deeply into cooking. He has created a private Snapchat story broadcasting his personal expression through the culinary arts. “In the past, whenever I made something particularly interesting, I would put it on my story, but I decided I wanted to show more of the behind-the-scenes for whoever was interested.” He says that quarantine has given him the time to pursue his longtime hobby. “Normally, it was just something I looked forward to when I came home, but now it’s part of my daily routine,” he says.
Anderson’s recipes are easy to follow and construct. He believes that cooking is one of the most important skills to learn. “I want to try and inspire my audience to try it out for themselves. Cooking also doesn’t have to be difficult. Correctly preparing a hot pocket is more difficult than about 50 percent of recipes I’ve made,” Anderson says.
He begins each video speaking in French, sure to incorporate humor every so often to keep the instruction lighthearted and entertaining. Both inspiring and witty, his private food-journey is a major hit among his audience. “Davis adds a lot of content to his cooking videos with metaphors about how cooking relates to life and advice on how to cook efficiently. Not only is Davis funny and insightful, he is a good chef and he makes really appetizing food,” says classmate Megan List ’20.
Anderson’s famous apron with cherries (styled without a shirt) seems to be a selling point as well. Jake Ahlgren ‘21 says, “His outfits make it great. It made me really uncomfortable at first, but they definitely make the videos funny and wonderful.” Madi Norris ’21 aconfirmed Anderson’s ability to connect with his audience..
Some of the recipes that he has made so far include lasagna, smoked salmon, Boeuf à la Bourguignonne, duck legs, ribs, biscotti, chocolate covered strawberries, and several different types of cookies.
“Since joining Davis’ cooking channel, my sister and I were inspired to make his famous chocolate chip cookie recipe they turned out AMAZING!” says List. Ahlgren also says, “I made a grilled cheese like he did, and it was delicious.”
Aside from sharing his recipes and techniques, Anderson’s main focus is to experiment with ingredients, creating new and refined recipes. “I’m writing a cookbook at the moment, and I’m about 10,000 words in. I just cook whatever comes to mind,” Anderson says.
Anderson welcomes recipe requests and suggestions for improvements to his video delivery. While crêpes and chocolate covered strawberries were and are a fan favorite, lemon poppyseed muffins and homemade pizza, among others, are a few of the recipes his viewers want to see in the future.
Anderson’s humor and wonderful instruction are what make his videos so special. Norris says, “Davis is able to be very silly and still offer important advice and instructions on what he’s doing and how I can do it too.” List agrees: “Davis is really good at teaching people how to cook and presenting it in a way that is interesting. He is very funny, he explains what he is doing in easy steps, he has a captivating voice, and he has a clear love for cooking.”
Cooking is a hobby that has helped Anderson and others cope with being stuck at home; nevertheless, he wishes to expand this interest beyond his home life. While being on campus creates a difficult environment to explore the culinary arts, especially when the dining hall is simply so convenient, Anderson imagines a school world with easy access to kitchens. He suggests that a cooking class added to the Mercersburg arts curriculum could be a great way for students not only to learn a lifelong and very necessary skill but also to define who they are through the art of preparing food.
“How can we claim to prepare students for the next phase in their life when many graduate barely able to make pasta?” Anderson asks. This hot-take is shared by many in his audience. Norris says, “Being at home, I have loved cooking all my meals, and it’s something I really miss at school. It would be really cool if we could do an open kitchen sometimes and cook in the Sage kitchen.”
Some have suggested the proposal of a culinary arts term course. “A cooking class would incorporate a whole new type of arts class, and provide students with the invaluable lesson of learning how to cook when they can no longer rely on Sage,” Megan List says.
Cooking may not be everyone’s strong suit, but Anderson’s videos are inspiring and easy to follow. His humor and antics make his videos entertaining to people who may not enjoy cooking, suggests List. He makes a variety of recipes that many can create – as well as exploring more complicated ones. While most may not be able to make, or even pronounce, Boeuf à la Bourguignonne, Anderson’s fans are always intrigued to see what’s next… and try something new.