Starting in early October, the Faculty Dining Room in McElroy Hall will open its doors to undergraduates once a week. Boston College Dining Services’ (BCDS) new TV Chef Series will kick off with a night featuring the cuisine of Food Network chef Jamie Oliver, and is slated to continue on Thursdays throughout the academic year.
Director of BCDS Helen Wechsler said that the new program is actually a reincarnation of an old, popular dinner series called “Channel Surfing,” which used to be held in the Walsh Function Room.
“They’d actually pick a TV station and theme the dinner around that,” she said. “It was really great food, and students would make reservations, and they loved it. It was one price, and you could use your mandatory [meal plan money], and it was very successful for a long while.”
Interest in the Channel Surfing program eventually waned and the program died out, but Wechsler said that BCDS has recently been looking for ways to give BC students more culinary options. “We were thinking about things that we could do that would be exciting for students, particularly those who had mandatory plans,” she said. “Students have asked us every once in awhile, ‘Why can’t you open a restaurant on campus?’ and that sort of thing. The Faculty Dining Room is perfect-it’s a great setting.”
Wechsler credited the management team at McElroy with helping to put the TV Chef Series together. She also praised all the chefs from the on-campus kitchens for testing and working out the recipes.
“They love doing this-this is really fun for them,” she said. “This is what they do at home, and they get to do it for a group of students, hopefully that appreciate it.” The series plans to feature the cuisine of a wide variety of chefs in the future, including Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, America’s Test Kitchen (located in Brookline, Mass.), Guy Fieri, and Paula Deen. BCDS is also open to students’ suggestions for other chefs whose food they would like to sample.
Wechsler said that the advent of the TV Chef Series is not a response to complaints about Hillside’s move this year from the Residential Dining Plan-which is mandatory for all freshmen, as well as some students living on Lower Campus-to Residential Dining Bucks, Optional Dining Bucks, and Eagle Bucks. “This was in the works before we even solidified the Hillside changes,” she said. “We try to do things throughout the course of the year that are a little bit different, just to shake things up and give students some alternatives.”
The Faculty Dining Room can only hold around 80 people and Wechsler anticipates that it will fill up quickly for the buffet-style TV Chef nights, so the series will be reservation-only, open to anyone from the BC community. For a set price of $24.99, which can be paid using any of BC’s dining plans, guests will be able to serve themselves from a variety of foods, including a soup, three salads, a series of entrees, and two desserts, all out of the evening’s featured cookbook. An action station demonstrating one of the recipes will also be present, along with a mocktail station. Besides food, the events will include trivia about that night’s chef, and giveaways such as free cookbooks. Reservations can be made by calling the number on the Faculty Dining Room’s website, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.