by Miranda Buschur
Bubble and Squeak. Toad in the Hole. Bangers and Mash. Poor Knights of Windsor.
These are just some of the interesting names given to culinary dishes in English cuisine. Recently, a few of these dishes made it onto the McIntosh dining hall menu when the Sodexo Global Chef program brought Executive Chef Melanie Tolson of Southampton, England, to campus to cook for the student body.
By bringing Tolson to ONU, Sodexo hoped to introduce students to new, different types of cooking to generate some excitement. The success of the new initiative spoke for itself; students were raving.
“It’s awesome. It’s nice to have a mix up from regular cafeteria style,” says Josh Martinez, a freshman civil engineering major from South Bloomfield, Ohio.
The Global Chef program allows Sodexo's top chefs to travel globally to share their international tastes and to discover new recipes they may want to bring back to their home universities. Tolson prepared savory English staples like fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, and steak and ale pie, but couldn’t help notice all the ways ONU students can satisfy their sweet tooth. “I really like your breakfast pancakes and all the different cookies. I love a good pastry,” she says.
Along with the pastries and pancakes, Tolson noticed another notable difference between England and America. “The food portions are huge everywhere I go, but that’s America in general, right?"
Tolson will spend two weeks in America as part of the program. Before coming to ONU, she cooked at the University of Massachusetts Boston in Boston, Ma, and Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. However, it was Ada that left a memorable first impression.
“It’s just a beautiful campus. I absolutely love it here. It really reminds me of England. It’s just so green. It reminds me of home,” she says.
Tolson admitted to being nervous about traveling to a new country and being on her own. However, she quickly overcame her fears after seeing how people responded to her and the program.
“It’s been amazing. I have been so welcomed. Everyone is so helpful, and I’m really grateful for the experience. People thank me for coming, but I’m thanking them for letting me come out here because it’s just such an amazing experience,” she says.
The ONU student body seemed to love having her on campus just as much as she loved being here. The students gained the opportunity to try new, international food during Tolson’s time here.
Sam Inbody, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from McComb, Ohio, says, “I definitely appreciate the initiative. I know that last year we would get a lot of the same foods a lot of the time, so having these different dining events is very beneficial.”
ONU’s dining service really hit a home run with this initiative. The praise keeps coming from students.
Cover photo: Southampton Solent University executive chef Melanie Tolson tastes roasted vegetable soup.
“I love it,” says Amanda Liebrecht, a second-year pharmacy major from McComb, Ohio. “I wasn’t sure when I saw it, what exactly it was, but it turned out really, really good. Overall I really like the initiative because I love trying new foods, and it’s kind of fun to have something different at lunch.”
Students at McIntosh Center were not the only ones to benefit from Tolson’s visit. The Ohio Northern University Board of Trustees had the opportunity to taste Tolson’s cultural cuisines as well. She prepared a dessert called Winter Crumble for the fall Board of Trustees meeting.
The interesting names of the dishes required some to step out of their comfort zones. Though it suggests more exotic ingredients, Toad in a Hole is actually just regular sausages seared in Dijon mustard baked in Yorkshire pudding. Yet the name alone was too much for Martinez.
“No thanks, I’ve had frog legs before.”