It”s late morning at the University of Idaho”s Kappa Delta sorority house, where sunlight filters through large windows and the smell of hamburgers fills the air. From the kitchen comes the subtle sounds of chopping knives and the quiet sizzle of the grill.
Bashir Rahman, known throughout the house as Chef B, monitors the prep work in the kitchen as Foreigner”s “Hot Blooded” plays in the background.
It”s hamburger day, so of course, the music must be rock and roll.
Rahman, the executive chef of Kappa Delta who first began serving Greek houses 15 years ago, believes that the true dining experience isn”t just about the food, but about the music too.
“If I”m bringing you something different from a different part of the world, I want you to feel that while you”re eating it,” Rahman said. “I want you to experience the food with the music behind it, the culture, so you get the whole package.”
The chef, from Lincoln, Nebraska, by way of Chicago, first came to UI through Upper Crust, a company that caters to Greek houses.
Rahman said he not only enjoys cooking for the sorority members of the house, but that he also likes to expose students to as many different flavors as he possibly can.
“I literally bring Greek houses the world,” Rahman said. “It”s not just cheeseburgers, but I bring them Asian food, Italian food, Middle Eastern, African, here at Delta.”
Music, Rahman said, is an integral part of serving a good meal, too.
“That”s the general reason to play music, to set the mood for the food, let you sit down and enjoy your food,” Rahman said. “With all the studying you guys do, when it”s time for you to sit down and eat, you want to be able to enjoy it.”
When it comes to combining culture and music, Rahman, who grew up with a German mother and an African father, said his house was always full of both, and the practice of playing music while cooking developed as a natural habit over the years.
“I thought of it sort of like this – when I go into a Chinese restaurant, they”re usually playing some Asian music,” Rahman said. “If I go into an Italian restaurant, they”re playing Italian music. Over the years I”ve brought that with me, it feels culturally right to eat an Italian dish with some Italian music.”
Andrea Rupe, Upper Crust sous chef, said not only is Rahman a great cook, but he also values his staff.
“Chef B is the best boss I”ve ever had,” Rupe said. “He barely knew me when he started working here, but he saw I was a hard worker, he sees that I”m a valued employee.”
Rupe said before Rahman arrived, the food wasn”t as good and the chefs received fewer breaks. Now, she said the food is easier to prepare, but tastes better and the overall environment of the kitchen has changed in a positive way.
Rupe said she appreciates the changes Rahman has made to the kitchen as well as the ways in which he supports his staff and encourages other chefs to grow in their culinary practices.
“I”ve gained more knowledge since working with him,” Rupe said. “He”s pushed me to do things I didn”t think I could and he”s pushed me to grow more in my career as a chef.”
Rahman has had about 30 years of culinary experience and said that although he”s worked for restaurants and hotels in the past, he values being able to provide students with tasty and nutritious meals.
“I”ve done restaurants and hotels, but I”m really a fan of the home cooking,” Rahman said. “The thing I like about being a father and having children in school is I know it”s important for the food to be good – when you”re full, you study well.”
The father of three said he is an advocate of children pursuing higher education and is happy to be helping students grow and fuel their studies.
“I like cooking for the Greek houses because I”m cooking for the future of America,” Rahman said. “I”m very big on education, so why not be involved with it in some way?”
Rahman said he might not be a professor or work as an administrator, but he does enjoy that he is still able to mentor and encourage students to pursue culinary arts while also providing them with nutritious meals.
“That”s what I get out of it,” Rahman said. “The satisfaction of knowing I can help someone in a positive manner.”
Corrin Bond can be reached at email@example.com