Another Perk of an On-Campus Farm
“Everything we can make from scratch,” says Chatham’s Shadyside Campus executive chef Dan Dooley, “we do.”
“Chef Dan” is proud of the food he and his staff serve at Anderson Dining Hall, and with fresh beef patties, hand-breaded chicken tenders, and produce grown on Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, deservedly so. In fact, this year Chatham was ranked 7th in the nation for best food grown and sourced locally by Sierra Magazine’s 2015 “Cool Schools” report. The rating reflects the amount of food purchased locally and the presence of sustainable practices such as composting.
“Around 20 percent of the food and beverage we buy is from sustainable and local sources,” says Anderson’s General Manager Rob Coyne. “By ‘local’ we mean about a 150-radius. Local producers, artisans, family farms.”
“I encourage my staff to get creative,” says Chef Dan. “Once we got in some potatoes and fennel, and one of my staff members said ‘Hey, there’s this soup I used to make in my restaurant,’ and I told her to go for it. It was a big hit.”
Twenty miles north of Pittsburgh, Chatham’s 388-acre, net-zero Eden Hall Campus grows produce year-round with the help of a solar-powered hoop house, a roster of Masters in Sustainability and Masters in Food Studies students, and Allen Matthews, Chatham’s director and instructor of sustainable agriculture.
“If Allen’s got it, we’ll take it” laughs Chris Galarza, who has been executive chef at Eden Hall since July.
Eden Hall feeds fewer people than Shadyside (about 40 compared to 550), and Chef Chris uses this as an opportunity to build relationships with the students there. “I ask students what they like, what they miss about their mom’s cooking,” says Chef Chris. “We like to get them as engaged as possible. Today we did a Korean barbecue.”
“We want to minimize waste, so we get creative with what we have. The other day we had some leftover salmon, so we made some salmon cakes, and then discovered that the salmon skin puffs up just like a crackling when you fry it.”
“I give my team as much as autonomy as possible,” says Chef Chris. “One time we had some nice potatoes left over, and someone had the idea of a Pittsburgh-style lasagna, using pierogis. And we smoke our own brisket, and had some left over, and we turned it into smoked brisket mac and cheese.”
“I don’t think the kids up here have taste buds,” laughs Chef Chris. “They eat some of the spiciest things I’ve ever had in my life. One of the Falk School professors, Ryan Utz, grows Chocolate Bhutlah peppers, which are eight times hotter than a habañero. We make hot sauce with that and they put it on everything. We go through a half gallon every two weeks.”
We get everything as close to local as possible. All of our dairy comes from Turner dairy – local. Eggnog, most of our veggies are from Eden Hall or local sources, squash. Braised beef cheeks from Cunningham’s Meats, pork from Hatfield’s.
“I’ve worked at some crazy cool places,” comments Chef Chris. “I’ve worked at a five-star resort, and Eden Hall is still way cooler.”