Depauw University Engages Community with Multiple Events

The attendees at the first of many expected cooking classes at DePauw, front row, left to right: Andrea Adamchak and Svetlana Hall. Back row: Executive Chef Chad Melinger, Betsy Demmings, Jodi Menke, Linda Clute, John Lairson, Neal McKinney, and Executive Sous Chef Laura Fornari.

Summer might be a slow time for some university dining teams, but the Bon Appétiters at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, stayed quite busy with a series of community focused events.

They rolled out a new mobile catering vehicle, the Farm to Food Truck, at the First Friday event in Greencastle. An annual tradition, First Friday closes down the town’s main streets, bringing together bands, local crafters, and food partners to celebrate and give guests a great night out. Executive Chef Chad Melinger, Sous Chef Angeline Martin, and Cooks Sean Thomas and Darrell Kirkham rocked the food truck’s tiny kitchen, serving up a large variety of locally sourced plates. The menu included house-smoked barbecued Wyeth Farms brisket; a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with smoked gouda, Twilight Dairy cheddar, caramelized onions, Cameron Farms bacon, and tomato jam; and a grilled caprese sandwich featuring fresh zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant sourced from Ullem Farm.

Fresh cucumbers, spring onions, and sage harvested from the expanded Ullem Campus Farm

Speaking of Ullem, the Bon Appétit team was excited to be part of the newly expanded campus farm. Generous support from donors Scott and Beth Daley Ullem enabled the farm to grow from 1 to 12 acres! Chad and Executive Sous Chef Laura Fornari partnered with Malorie Imhoff, director of the Center for Sustainability, to decide what to plant and how best to utilize the crops. Line Cook Chey Branson helped out during planting season as well as harvesting. Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and more were turned into dishes across the dining facilities.

And for the first time, Chad led a special knife skills workshop for seven attendees. He gave a full demonstration of the different types of knives available in a standard kitchen, and how to use them safely. After that instruction portion, Chad walked the class through steps to prepare a Cobb salad. Using knives and wearing protective cut gloves, guests learned proper techniques for chopping, slicing, and dicing fresh produce and proteins. At the end of the session, everyone sat down together and shared the fruits of their labor.

Submitted by Megan Inman, Catering Manager