Dining services offers special menus

Muhlenberg’s dining services celebrate traditions and holidays throughout the spring semester.

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The salad bar at the Wood Dining Commons. Photo Editor Kira Bretsky '27.

The Spring semester will be a busy one filled with several holidays and events. Because of this, Muhlenberg’s dining services are celebrating Black History Month, Mardi Gras and Lunar New Year with themed food. In addition, there are also special menu items for the Latin American Film Festival, General’s Carvery and Heart Health Awareness. 

On their Instagram @bergdining, Dining Services says that they will celebrate Black History Month in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Life with two delicious meals spread out through February starting with Feb. 1. Dining Services has also teamed up with the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures during their Latin American Film Festival next month. Each film showing will correspond with a meal in the Wood Dining Commons inspired by the country in which the film takes place. For Mardi Gras, Dining Services will host their annual Mardi Gras celebration in the Wood Dining Commons during lunch on Feb. 13. Students can celebrate Lunar New Year during Dinner on Feb. 8 with homemade dumplings made by student volunteers. The first General’s Carvery will be on Feb. 14 during lunch outside of the General’s Quarters (GQ), which will feature house-smoked pulled pork. 

For the Latin American Film Festival, Dining Services has collaborated with the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures to create authentic menus from each of the countries featured in the film festival. Sous Chef Ivan Martinez researched and compiled amazing menus that reflected the cultures of the various countries. For Black History Month, members of the culinary staff of African descent have been invited to create menus that highlight the foods they enjoy at home or growing up. This year, Noshery Lead Cook, Montrel Mansel, served a meal of baked macaroni and cheese, smoked turkey, collard greens, cornbread and barbequed ribs. Later in the month, Chef de Partie Malynda Mason will be serving shrimp and grits, parmesan green beans and scallion biscuits. Next week in celebration of Mardi Gras, the Food Gallery will see a large variety of special additions for lunch, including oyster po boys at WildFire Grille, muffalata sandwiches and shrimp gumbo at Chew Street Deli, chicken and andouille jambalaya, fried green tomatoes and benoits at Chef’s Table. Executive Chef Michael Brack says, “The Cooks on our team do this work because they love what they do. Muhlenberg College offers a venue that encourages innovation and creativity, when we have an opportunity to learn a new dish or present a different offering everyone wants to be involved. The excitement and appreciation of our customers drives our passion and enthusiasm.”

General’s Carvery was first held about six or seven years ago, but it was not held for a period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, this event resumed last year. Operations Manager Peter Stark expressed, “We wanted to offer something different and unique to our GQ clientele, be it faculty, staff or students. We offered the Carvery two to three times a semester. We would either set up a carving station outside the entrance to the GQ or utilize the Mobile Mule in Parent’s Plaza during nicer weather. We house-smoke various cuts of meat, hand carve them to order and offer a variety of sides to compliment the sandwich. It offers a change of pace for our customers, and for us as well!” On Feb. 14, Dining Services will offer a pulled pork sandwich on a pretzel bun and a vegan smoked jackfruit sandwich, and before spring break, there will be a corned beef special. 

Evan Young ‘27 says, “I love how everyone’s culture is represented. It really coincides with Muhlenberg’s ideals of community. It makes everyone feel included and like they are a part of the community.”

Each month of the semester, Campus Dietitian Tori Martinez MS, RDN, LDN, hosts a wellness event for the campus community. The themes vary monthly, so there is always new information to learn. Because February is Heart Health Month, Martinez explains that “This wellness event will focus on heart-healthy diet and lifestyle practices. I enjoy the educational aspect of my events because knowledge allows us to make informed decisions for our lives. Wellness events are an excellent opportunity to learn about a nutrition/wellness topic and speak with me if there are any questions.” Students will have the opportunity to attend the next wellness event, which will be held on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Seegers Union front lobby tables. There will be an informational handout and a sampling of chocolate hummus with fruit dippers. Future event dates are Wednesday, Mar. 20, Thursday, Apr. 25 and Wednesday, May 1.

Gabrielle Brayman ‘27 says, “Having a variety of foods this month in the dining hall is a great idea. It showcases the diversity that we have at Muhlenberg. Trying these different cuisines opens up our eyes to many cultures and their unique backgrounds. This furthers the goal of inclusion here on campus.”

The Lunar New Year Dumpling Fest is a long tradition of gathering faculty, staff and students on campus to gather on an evening and prepare the dumplings for the Lunar New Year Dinner held in the Wood Dining Commons. To manage this large scale event, Thomas Janis from the International Studies Office, Red Door Catering and the Wood Dining Commons team all collaborate to bring the volunteers, free up a kitchen, make the dumplings and execute the celebration dinner. Red Door Catering Director Jenell Butz explains, “This is an annual event that we in dining services are thrilled to be a part of every year. It’s always nice to see new students participate but it’s even more rewarding to have the veteran dumpling makers join us from their freshman to senior year!” She also adds that, “If a student group or organization is looking to organize any type of event, planning is key and the Red Door Catering team is able to [provide] support with any questions or guidance needed. If you are a group or organization interested in planning an event please contact the Red Door Catering team at catering@muhlenberg.edu or come visit us in the Student Life Suite, Room 85c!”

Coming up in March, there will be the Spring Awakening Dinner in collaboration with the student group, Plant Based Advocates on the 19th. Then on the 20th there will be a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner and on the 28th, also a student collaboration, Ukrainian Cuisine-inspired meal. In recognition of Arabic Appreciation Month, the Dining Services will also feature a special meal (menu and date TBD). The end of the semester will be celebrated with Finals Carnival Food Night. 

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