From scratch

Senior spends free time cooking meals for himself, family


Noah Baker

Senior Travis Tinsley poses in front of a stove top.

Noah Baker, Staff Writer

A pan simmers over low heat, lightly bubbling with a smoky, spicy, creamy vodka sauce. Senior Travis Tinsley lifts up the pasta full of boiling noodles and strains them, calling to his family that dinner is ready. He carefully divides the noodles into separate plates and pours the hot sauce on each before garnishing with freshly seared scallops. He delivers the plates in front of each of his family members as they gather around the table. Everyone dives into the perfectly cooked dish and they all have a nice meal as they talk about their day.

Tinsley spends his freetime cooking meals for himself and his family.

“It’s a good pastime,” Tinsley said. “It takes up plenty of time. It’s productive. [I’m] not sitting around the house bored all day cause I can work with my hands, be up and about actually doing things [and] get a good meal at the end of it.”

For Tinsley, it’s a way to be in control of what he eats. His family doesn’t always make what he would like to have because of their allergies. For example, one of his family members is allergic to shallots, an ingredient in his signature dish: penne alla vodka. But cooking outside of his family’s most common meals is important to Tinsley.

“It’s an important skill,” Tinsley said. “I don’t cook a whole lot, but I cook what I want and when I want it, typically things that my family doesn’t cook very often. For example, I made pan seared ribeye the other day.”

Tinsley has encountered a few challenges and obstacles for cooking. Besides the physical challenges that a recipe can bring, like the tedium of maintaining a soft pretzel’s shape as it falls apart in hot water, it can also be a costly hobby.

“It can get kind of expensive,” Tinsley said. “Buying a big bag of flour can be an expensive first purchase. It’ll last, but it is definitely not a cheap initial set up. I grow a lot of my own vegetables, so the pasta sauce isn’t terrible, but buying flour or shallots can definitely rack up a price.”

Tinsley has considered cooking competitively but only plans on pursuing the culinary arts at Ivy Tech for now.

For Tinsley, the most valuable part of cooking is the ability to control what he eats.

“There’s a lot of processed food out there that people typically resort to in the end when they don’t know how to cook,” Tinsley said. “Some of the stuff, you don’t even know what goes in it. I actually learned the extent to which things are processed and all of the stuff that gets put in our food that we’re not really aware of through social media, which just continues to push my hobby a little further. That way, I can control and I know what’s going in my food whenever I eat it.”

For this reason, Tinsley encourages everyone to learn cooking on some level.

“I think everybody should be involved in cooking in some way or another, so that you know what you’re eating,” Tinsley said. “Start with a dish that you actually like to cook or like to eat. That way, if it turns out you have something you like to eat by the end of it. You can even spice dishes up yourself.”