For some of Dana Hall’s boarding students, campus is thousands of miles from home and their family. To make the school seem a little more familiar, beginning this school year, Dining Hall Sous Chef Irvel Barosy has been preparing soups from the girls’ native countries.
“I call the mom and ask, ‘what do they eat?’ and ‘what do they like?,’ Barosy says. “Their mother will then send me some recipes.”
Barosy also works weekends in the Dining Hall, and since there are fewer people on campus—and therefore fewer people to feed—he has more one-on-one time with the boarding students. “I’ll be making omelets and while they’re standing in the omelet line, I talk to the girls. I ask them what they’re missing [from home].”
So far this year, Barosy has featured soups from Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, China and the Dominican Republic. The soups are part of a display that includes a flag from the girl’s country and a copy of the recipe.
Peter Kourafalos, director of Dining Services, is appreciative of the level of care that goes into the cooking. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community,” he says. “People have been very interested in it and have even requested copies of the recipes. Everyone seems to enjoy that we are featuring something different or more global than they are accustomed to. And the students who have provided the recipes are truly excited because it’s something from home that they get to share with everyone.”
But not every student advocates to see her favorite food during meal service. Barosy recognizes that some new students are rather timid when they first arrive on campus. “They’re shy, so I take them under my wing,” Barosy says. “I want them to feel comfortable enough to tell me what they want [to eat].”
He shared the story of a student who ate a very specific kind of beef patty, so Barosy and the Dining Hall staff sourced the patties she liked so she would have something familiar to eat. Her parents visited during last month’s Family Weekend and brought more of her favorite patties with them.
But the care for students’ food preferences goes beyond comfort food from home. Barosy works with students with food allergies and aversions, and will help source specific brands if they bring him the packaging. He’s also been known to make chicken soup for students on campus suffering from a cold.
Why does he do it? “That’s the good part about it: They appreciate it so much,” Barosy says with a smile.