By Julie Anne Jacobs
Guest chefs at the Wellness Kitchen, the student-athletes served local dishes from their native country, New Zealand, to fellow Auburn students and faculty.
The menu selected by Lloyd and Baddock featured lamb and roasted vegetables with parsnips and "kumara," the New Zealand term for sweet potatoes.
"It is a very common dish at home," Lloyd says. "It's a family sort of dinner."
Lloyd, a senior studying organismal biology, and Baddock, a junior in marine biology, enjoy cooking on the weekends for friends. Recipes, however, are seen more as suggestions rather than instructions.
"I love to cook meals, but I am more of a 'I will just figure something out' rather than a recipe person," Baddock says. "I love to experiment."
Time, along with detailed recipes and calculations were critical for the swimmers as they served hundreds of Auburn students, making everything from the marinade on the meat to cutting and seasoning the vegetables.
"We ended up putting in around 12 hours of prep-time to cook all the food," said Lloyd.
"The process itself turned out to be a lot of work," Baddock said. "From never cooking one roasted lamb by myself to cooking 40 all at once definitely proved to be challenging."
Throughout the process, both Lloyd and Baddock relied on the expertise and guidance of the Wellness Kitchen staff.
"I felt, at times, like we were slightly clueless but people were ready to help us immediately," Lloyd says. "The staff was fantastic."
"Getting to know the staff was really fun and there was a lot of good banter that went on during the two intensive days," Baddock states.
Even with preparation and training by the Wellness Kitchen, the student-athletes were still anxious about how the Auburn Family would react to the new dish.
"I was just nervous that it wouldn't taste any good," Baddock says. "I have never cooked for this many people before."
Nerves were quickly put to ease, though, as Auburn students couldn't get enough of the dish, presenting clean plates and eager appetites.
"We had lots of people coming up for seconds and thirds, which I am going to assume meant they loved the food," Lloyd said.
"All the feedback we received was really positive and there wasn't much left over at the end of the night, which is always a good sign," says Baddock.
Yet, ultimately, the student-athletes measured the night's success based on one select group's reaction to the meal.
"A lot of people came up and gave us compliments, which was very sweet, but we didn't hear a single complaint from our massive swim team, who we knew would be very harsh critics," Lloyd said. "So, I think it's fair to say it was a success."
Though the guest chef role proved to be a large undertaking, the swimmers relish the opportunity to bring a little piece of home back to the Plains.
"It was an awesome experience and I am so grateful we had the opportunity to do this," said Lloyd.
"It felt really good to share this part of our lives with people and to show them a little slice of what New Zealand cuisine is like," Baddock said.
Judging by the looks of empty plates and overflowing appetites, it's safe to say that little slice of New Zealand was a huge success.