(This article is reprinted with permission from UConn Today, an online blog published by the University of Connecticut).

Although they already have more than 4,000 recipes to use, the skilled chefs who guide the preparation of nearly 180,000 meals per week in UConn’s dining halls always seek out new dishes to introduce to the campus community.

The “Recipes From Home” program, which serves favorite family meals students enjoyed while growing up at home, was launched by Dining Services several years ago. A newsletter was sent to parents of students requesting recipes, and hundreds were submitted. A team of Dining Services chefs selected a group of recipes that were tested in the eight residential campus dining halls and, after configuring the preparation for hundreds of servings instead of merely a small family meal, several were added to the cycle of menus.

Many of those favorite family recipes are still served each week at UConn, but now they are being shared through an online cookbook titled “Recipes from Home: A Collection of Recipes from UConn Parents and Students.” The cookbook, featuring 29 of the recipes, is a cooperative effort between Dining Services and art students in the School of Fine Arts.

The idea for a cookbook had been simmering for some time, until it was moved to the front burner during a conversation late last summer between Dennis Pierce, director of Dining Services, and Gail Merrill, publicity marketing manager.

“The cookbook was always an idea in my mind, but we didn’t have time to do it,” says Merrill. “When Dennis said we should resurrect it, I happened to be in an art museum and picked up a book that had illustrated recipes. It was a real cool looking book. I thought: why don’t we talk to our illustration students?”

The opportunity to provide a real work assignment for students was welcomed by three members of the art faculty: Cora Lynn Deibler and Alison Paul, who guided their students through the illustration assignment, and Mary Banas, who led her students through creating design templates for the two-page recipe spreads.

“It’s a good preliminary professional practice for these young illustrators to engage in this kind of project, rather than simply doing projects that go between themselves and the professor,” says Deibler, whose client list includes The Big Apple Circus, “Weekly Reader,” Scholastic Inc., and Oxford University Press. “We work hard in the illustration department to connect our students’ work with someone outside the classroom.”