One of the most highly anticipated traditions at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, is the Annual 5C Turf Dinner.
Each September, a few weeks after the school year starts, all five undergraduate Claremont Colleges (aka the 5Cs) participate in an outdoor dinner at a rotating host campus. Students may attend whether or not they have a meal plan, giving them a chance to sample the food styles of five dining operations at once. They relish this open invitation to eat without having to swipe (or sneak!) in.
The Turf Dinner, hosted this year by Claremont McKenna College, is also a great opportunity for Bon Appétiters to showcase their creativity while enjoying an air of friendly competition. (In a sense, dining programs “compete” throughout the year for swipes, as 5C students’ meal plans are reciprocal.)
The colleges are located close to Route 66, so Pitzer’s Bon Appétit team thought it would be fun to take advantage of the off-the-shelf Route 66 promotion. To build camaraderie, they purchased T-shirts featuring a commemorative, retro-looking Route 66 logo designed by Pitzer’s communications team. They also doled out Route 66 buttons as guest souvenirs.
The team decked the tables in black and white, reminiscent of a checkered racing flag, and included Route 66 highway signs made of tin, bottled sodas in wooden caddies, and jars full of penny candies such as Bazooka gum, Bottle Caps, and Lemonheads to lend a nostalgic Americana look.
Under the leadership of Executive Chef Marcos Rios and Sous Chef Juan Ramos, the team devised a menu featuring something from landmark diners in every state that Route 66 traverses. Guest favorites that day included barbecued beef brisket with “Texas caviar,” Parthenon vegetarian moussaka, Middle Path Café gumbo, Monte Carlo Café chiles rellenos, and Claremont Inn’s pumpkin bread. The surprising highlight: The warm donut holes that Director of Operations Vania Hernandez handed out to some of the estimated 1,000 guests waiting in line, an idea inspired by Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago.
Throughout the two-hour event, guests noshed on great-tasting food served up by a great-looking team. With no leftovers to bring back to campus and plenty of buzz for several days about how “Pitzer went all out!” at this year’s Turf Dinner, the Pitzer team enjoyed the promotion’s rousing success.
Submitted by Cindy Bennington, General Manager