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Holiday Theme Dinners

Posted: 12/10/2010

There’s the start-of-the-year clambake in September and the end-of-the-year luau in May. Halfway between, there’s the annual winter-theme dinner – an event made particularly festive by the good vibe of students who are closing in on finals and looking forward to the holidays.

As always, this year’s Holiday Dinner was a culinary experience to behold, with an eye-popping menu that included roast prime rib of beef, baked Atlantic salmon cannelloni, homemade crab cakes with a Cajun roumalade, shrimp scampi ravioli with wilted arugula, and more – much more. Whatever you piled on your plate as high as you could, you had a meal that any downtown restaurant would have been proud to serve you. 

The same could be said of the Native American theme dinner, which Dining Services staff decided to offer just before Thanksgiving after attending a conference on native American foods at Holy Cross University. Featuring live entertainment and dishes like bison short ribs, roasted acorn squash, pan-seared rainbow trout, and quinoa with dried cherries and raisins, that event also was a big hit.

The people of Dining Services put a lot of work into their theme dinners, and they really love doing them,  says Bonniesue Rolon, assistant supervisor for catering and special events.

“They’re our opportunity to break out of the routine and really show off what the Dining Hall has,” she says. “We love to see the kids’ faces when they come in the door and find the place decorated or they see a fabulous dish that we don’t ordinarily have on the line.”

To produce eight fabulous theme dinners at the rate of about per month through the academic year is all about teamwork and coordination, as well as hard-nosed assessments of what a given oven or other piece of equipment is capable of producing in addressing the hunger of 2400 students.

In recent years, classic dinner themes have included an “Obama inauguration night theme dinner”, a pirate theme dinner, and an Asian market theme dinner. Next term, the Skidmore community can look forward to an Olde Bryan Inn theme dinner in February and a Mardi Gras theme dinner in March.

Ideas for theme dinners usually begin with discussions among Executive Chef Jim Rose, Production Manager Mark Miller, Kitchen Supervisor John Batch, and Rolon, “but the cooks get in on it, too,” she says.

“We’re also always looking for ideas from students,” Rolon adds. “One has suggested a Star Wars theme dinner, and so we’re developing a list of possible menu items. ‘Bobba Fettacini’, for example. That should be a great one.”

Photos by Jazz Adam'13, Sam Brook'12, Hannah Sherman'12 and Madeline Sullivan'11