Ordinary to Gourmet: QU Dining Showcases Potential
By Abigail Moore
An unusual dish involving a southern coastal tang and a touch of citrus was served as an appetizer in an all new dining experience, Chef Chase’s Table, Jan. 31, in the QU Cafeteria.
Jerk alligator skewer: sprinkled with herbs, marinated, and served with a fresh citrus dressing, was an appetizer prepared for a group of students, professors, and friars who earned a seat at the table Wednesday evening.
Chef Chase Mangan, a chef of 10 years, has traveled the nation cooking and picking up a wide range of knowledge and skill along the way. Mangan took a turn toward the south when it came to following the standards of Quincy’s standard meal plan for this special occasion; because to him, it reminded him of home.
“I like the alligator because it’s personal for me. My dad catches alligators .. I’m from Florida. It’s something that’s been a part of me forever, so I got a good chance to let everyone else take the same passion in the things that I enjoy and the foods I like for a change.” Mangan said.
But, alligator skewer wasn’t the only unique dish served that evening. Mangan began preparing for the variety of different foods a week prior to it being served.
“I’ve been preparing is for about a week now. There’s things I’ve had going for days; there’s things I’ve had going three days ago; and there’s things I’ve had going yesterday. And the things that are fresh are of course done today,” Mangan said.
To begin the evening, the staff sectioned off the breakfast area of the cafeteria and prepared the table with Quincy University china, silverware, and wine glasses.
At Chef Chases’ Table, a hot bacon spinach salad started off the 4 course meal, which included spinach, crispy bacon, feta crumbles, fresh strawberries, and warm house-made bacon dressing. He next served the jerk alligator skewer. The main entrée was a white truffle chicken portobello, with spinach crusted chicken breast, white truffle cream sauce and crispy portobello mushrooms, with sides of risotto, asparagus and carrots. To end the meal, Mangan prepared an amaretto-soaked and torched pineapple over homemade brown sugar cake and sugar cane relish.
“They are definitely on top of everything,” Kendall Means, second year student, said. “The food was surprising. I only eat like this at home. Being here is like, ‘wow this is crazy’.”
“You know in the movie, Ratatouille, and he’s eating the ratatouille.. He gets really happy and goes back to his childhood.. That’s what you get. That is what you get when you are eating anything here. It’s so tasty!” Megan Jaboor, second year student, said. “I wouldn’t miss out on this opportunity. I’m trying to get someone else to nominate me so they can invite me to the next one!”
Mangan mentions how he wishes every meal could be like this experience, but it’s not feasible to do for the amount of students who dine in the cafe daily. He intends to continue Chef Chase’s Table every month to show smaller groups of students the true capability of the QU dining services. He also hopes that students who experienced the dinner will spread the word to make the event more popular in the future.
“We just do things like this so everybody can try good things in a smaller batch, because we can give 13-20 people a lot more attention than we can offer three of four hundred people, per say. And the budget also comes into play as well,” Mangan said, “By the time you consider budget, and the labor it would take to do it, it’s unpractical. But this is a good way to get our fingers out there and let everyone know we can do a lot.”
Hawks Dining saw Chef Chase’s Table as a way to veer off of the standard meal plan. Chase says it provides something different and a ‘good opportunity’ to socialize with people you may not normally talk to.
“We did this to just to do something cool and to showcase our Chef Chase, who does a lot of fun things and new things and so just to do something different. We want to make the dining service experience a great thing for QU and great for the students. It’s going to happen again, at least two more times this semester,” Director of Dining Services Chris Blakeman said.
In order to earn a spot at Chef Chase’s Table, a student must submit a photo of themselves to any Hawks Dining social media account eating a special designated dessert made in the café that day or be nominated for a position at the table. For updates and more information on winning a seat, follow ‘Hawks Dining’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Nominations for a seat at Chef Chase’s Table can be sent to Bordejo@quincy.edu.