Zachary Campana: Good food makes people happy, and that’s what I love

Senior Zach Campana prepares a special breakfast dish for dinner. Campana prepares new recipes for his family almost every week to introduce new foods to their palate.

Credit: Courtesy of Zach Campana

Senior Zach Campana prepares a special breakfast dish for dinner. Campana prepares new recipes for his family almost every week to introduce new foods to their palate. “I cook dinner for my family at least a few times a week, with usually a couple of larger and more time-consuming recipes a month,” Campana said.

When lockdown hit in March due to the pandemic, many of us could say we picked up new hobbies, whether it be baking, reading, painting, running or anything else in between. For senior Zach Campana, his newly acquired hobby was cooking. Campana rarely ever cooked before lockdown, but during, making food became an everyday occurrence.

For Campana, cooking is more than food on the table: it’s the memories that are associated with the food he cooks that are important. Campana’s grandmother became someone he could look up to for his cooking, and it became a hobby they enjoyed doing together.

“Cooking is special to me because my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time cooking with when I was younger, passed away in late April of COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic,” Campana said. “She taught me everything I know about cooking, from techniques to her favorite recipes from her special 1950’s ‘Joy of Cooking’ cookbook.”

Campana found himself in the kitchen beginning at a young age, helping his family to prepare meals. He only began cooking on his own during the COVID-19 quarantine. If it weren’t for quarantine, Campana wouldn’t have developed an appreciation for cooking and all the different recipes he has grown to love.

“It’s extremely satisfying to see people enjoy something you worked hard on, and that is exactly what I get out of cooking,” Campana said.

It’s extremely satisfying to see people enjoy something you worked hard on, and that is exactly what I get out of cooking”

— Zach Campana

Prior to quarantine, Campana found himself in the kitchen only when his parents needed extra hands, but it has since turned into a passion of his. Campana now cooks both to be helpful around the house and to experiment with new flavors.

“I started cooking as soon as I could walk and talk, helping my parents and grandparents with simple things like adding pre-measured ingredients or doing manual labor like stirring a pot or kneading dough,” Campana said.

Campana brings competition in the kitchen, where he seeks to “replace [his] family’s bland, simplistic, easy recipes with much more flavorful ones.”

Campana believes his cooking is beneficial to his family, as he usually cooks for them a few times per week and replaces their ‘boring’ meals with more tasteful ones.

One of Campana’s favorite dishes is a dish constituted of peppers, onions and steak over white rice. It is a rather simple dish, but still has an abundance of flavors. (Credit: Courtesy of Zach Campana )

“I usually cook for my brother and parents and on occasion, my friends want to try something I’ve made, so I deliver a bit of whatever it is to their house,” Campana said. “I cook dinner for my family at least a few times a week with usually a couple of larger and more time-consuming recipes a month.”

At the heart of cooking, experimenting with many different recipes lies until one stands out from the rest. Many of us have a favorite recipe, whether it be spaghetti and meatballs, chicken soup, mashed potatoes or many others, but for Campana, it’s pasta alla vodka. Pasta alla vodka is a dish consisting of a tomato and cream based sauce on top of any hollow pasta, usually penne or ziti.

For right now, cooking is just a hobby for Campana. He has no plans on pursuing this as a career but will continue to cook for family and friends.

“I probably would not be interested in a career in cooking, but it is a passion of mine I will always continue to pursue as at least a hobby,” Campana said.