Two students get creative with caf hacks

Two Seton Hall students are cookin’ it up at the caf.

Pooja Bhate, a sophomore biology major, and Sonia Shah, a sophomore pre-occupational therapy major, have taken to Instagram to show students that their cafeteria experience does not have to be limited to ready-made meals. Their Instagram account, @thecafhasbeenhacked, showcases creations made from the ingredients provided in the dining hall.

The account began as a personal page for Bhate and Shah. “I remember being known as the ‘Caf Hack’ girl from the start of the year when a few of my friends saw that I cooked my fried rice the right way and didn’t just eat the basic foods at the cafeteria,” Bhate said. “We started this account and made all of our close friends follow because it was this small fun thing.”

Cooper Tennant/Staff Photographer
Pooja Bhate and Sonia Shah post recipes of their cafeteria creations to their Instagram so that students know cooking in the cafeteria is not as stressful or as hard as they think.

Since the start of the semester, @thecafhasbeenhacked has been noticed by more people in the SHU community, including the official Seton Hall Instagram account and the Gourmet Dining Services staff.

“They have mentioned that they would love to feature our account on the TVs that are around the caf,” Shah said. “They continue to tell us that they love what we were doing. Even the dietitian said something similar.”

While Bhate and Shah have their own preferences, they make an effort to incorporate other foods available from multiple sections of the cafeteria.

“If you look closely, the two of us eat differently,” Bhate said, also noting their contrasts in diet patterns. While Bhate prefers carbs such as rice and noodles, Shah tends to use more vegetables in her meals.

Shah began posting to show that there are ways to have a varied, well-balanced diet. The Instagram account has since expanded to include the cooking process.

“As our account grew, we realized that what people really wanted was to see how to make a dish,” Shah said. “Most people are lost when they walk into the caf because they have no idea what to do with the ingredients provided for them.”

Many freshmen, including Rupali Reddy, a freshman biology major, explained how they had no prior experience cooking. Whether or not one has kitchen experience, she said she believed students should just go for it at the stations.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know how to use the equipment and I didn’t want to embarrass myself,” Reddy said. “No one’s really expecting you to be a chef or anything but what I did at first was watch my roommate and other people in line test stuff out.”

Other students use cooking as an alternative to the meals prepared by the GDS staff. Alicia John, a freshman nursing major, said the food was just not to her liking.

“The only thing that was attractive was junk food, like fries,” John said. “I wanted to be more healthy and figured the extra work to make something instead of eating the same unhealthy stuff over and over again was worth it.”

Bhate and Shah wanted students to know that cooking in the cafeteria isn’t as stressful or as much work as people would believe.

“The great thing about the SHU caf is that if you want to make something, all of the ingredients are already there and already prepared,” Shah said. “All you have to do is put those ingredients together.”

Shah said that while @thecafhasbeenhacked began as a fun side project, her and Bhate find satisfaction knowing the account is seen by many.

Shah said, “Seeing everyone else actually use our account to their benefit warms our heart.”

Catherine San can be reached at catherine.san@student.shu.edu.

Author: Catherine San

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