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Home Cooking on Parents & Family Weekend

When the mother of first-year Washington and Lee student Lauren Schultz makes her Mediterranean Salad during summer, at home in Holliston, Mass., she uses one 14-ounce box of bow tie pasta.

This Saturday, Washington and Lee’s Dining Services will need to expand on that recipe just a bit – by using 60 pounds of pasta to produce enough Mediterranean Salad to feed the 1,400 or so guests at W&L’s annual Parents and Family Weekend Luncheon.

The recipe from Allison Schultz won the Recipes for Home contest, held again this year by W&L’s Dining Services.

Last summer, Dining Services asked parents of entering students to enter the contest by sending a favorite recipe for one of three dishes: chili, cold salad or brownies.

According to Dennis Fowler, assistant director of operations for the Marketplace, one of W&L’s dining facilities, the contest drew 75 entrants, which represents more than 15 percent of the class of 2013.

“It was by far our largest pool of recipes,” Fowler said. And that made the selection process harder.

Earlier this month, members of Fowler’s staff selected three finalists in each of the three categories and made the dishes for a taste test. Members of the campus community nibbled away and selected the three winners-Mediterranean Salad, Cincinnati Chili and Oreo Brownies-that will be served this Saturday.

Lauren is excited to have the Mediterranean Salad on the menu.

“It’s one of my favorite recipes,” she said. “My mom makes it a lot in the summer when there are plenty of fresh vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumber, so the salad always reminds me of summer. I think I will be interested to hear how everyone likes it.”

The Cincinnati Chili recipe from Sarah Gorman’s family in Moores Hill, Ind., will take 60 pounds of ground beef, 30 pounds of ground pork and two gallons of beer.

“I love almost anything my mother cooks for our family,” said Sarah. “I really like the chili. It was the first chili I ever had and is one of two types of chili I actually like. I am super excited that it will be served to so many people. I know that my mom is an amazing cook. I am happy that other people will get to taste it, too.”

Scaling the family recipes for use with the large luncheon takes a computer and some experimentation.

“We use a computer program to make all the calculations, of course,” said Marketplace Chef Geraldine McCutcheon. “The most challenging part about expanding a recipe so much is the spices and seasons do not work quite the same in big batches, so the cook needs to go a little lighter on those than the computer calculates, and adjust the finished project.”

William Smithson, a first-year student from Cary, N.C., thinks that his classmates and their families will agree that his family’s Oreo Brownies will garner the same rave reviews he always gives.

“Their chewy decadence never ceases to blow my mind,” he said. “They are best when washed down with an ice-cold glass of milk.”

For the students, the taste of home is always welcome.

“My mama’s a really good cook, so I miss coming home to home-cooked family dinner after school and sports practice,” William said.