Parkhurst Dining Partners with Chatham University Eden Hall Farm Campus
“Our menu is based on the harvest,” says Parkhurst Dining Chef Manager Christopher Galarza, who collaborates with the campus farm manager on what vegetables will be grown. According to Chef Galarza, the food grown on Chatham University’s Eden Hall Farm by the students participating in the Chatham Food Studies program, are utilized in the menus that are created and prepared for the students!
“Our goal is to support the sustainability and environmental education of this program. This is a philosophy we also embrace at Parkhurst Dining through our company’s FarmSource program, which is an initiative to find and partner with some of the finest local growers, family-owned farms and producers of food in our communities. In this case, the farm is onsite!” says Chef Galarza.
Students deliver weekly baskets of food harvested from the Eden Hall Farm to Chef Galarza, who develops his weekly menus based on what is received.
Currently, the crops are fresh beets, beet greens, kale, spinach, mizuna (an Asian water green used in stir-fries and soups,) turnips, Swiss chard and a variety of herbs including cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, mint and three kinds of basil!
“So in any given week, I will take in approximately five lbs. of each food item. This week, I was also happy to take in 12 heads of lettuce!” says Chef Galarza, who uses the produce grown on campus first, and then supplements through local producers identified by FarmSource
Chef Galarza also uses honey from the apiary or bee yards on campus, where honey is also harvested fresh from the hives for recipe development!
Students are now busy planting for the summer harvest which will yield ginger, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, asparagus, garlic, onions, potatoes, squash (including butternut, yellow and Amish long neck) blueberries and even corn for popping fresh popcorn! Chef Galarza will store items such as potatoes, onions, carrots and turnips in the onsite root cellar which enables long-term storage of the farm’s bounty!
Chef Galarza will also solicit input from students to create the dishes they want to eat. “I feature an Indian Day once a month because one of the students from India was homesick,” he says. “Or a student will say, ‘I like anything sour,' so I'll make something with sauerkraut.”
Area students participating in local summer camps hosted by Eden Hall including a solar super heroes camp, a woodlands camp and a sports camp, will also benefit from the harvest!
“We plan to use the summer harvest in the menus developed for these summer camps, which will help to introduce freshly grown foods to children in hopes to educate them (as well as their parents) on how you can eat healthy without sacrificing flavor,” says Chef Galarza, who revealed some of his summer menu including roasted root vegetables, eggplant fritters, sautéed summer squash and cilantro lime shrimp.
But the education doesn’t stop there. A teaching kitchen built into Eden Hall’s dining room will soon allow Chef Galarza to share his culinary knowledge with students through cooking classes.
With only two small burners and a hood, Chef Galarza will develop a series of classes to be launched in the fall, including those that will teach students how to create delicious meals in their dorm room with only one or two pieces of equipment. Two cameras will capture the fine details so students can sit back and relax from afar enjoying these future demonstrations.
In the back of the house, Galarza's appliances, including an induction stove, are solar-powered electric for a carbon-neutral footprint. Induction cooking uses an electromagnetic field to heat cookware, essentially turning the bottom of the pan into the heating element. And, smart technology enables the range's hood to calibrate itself, and to send heat to the building's geothermal loop.
What’s on the horizon for Chef Galarza? “Well, we plan to purchase rainbow trout from the aquaculture garden managed by Chatham which will allow fish to be raised on campus in this safe, organically produced sustainable system.
“I couldn’t run this cool operation without a very capable and wonderful team,” says Chef Galarza. Kudos to Peggy Holfelder, cook; Nora Hayes, cook; Dean Morris, cook; Kim (Prasnikar) Wilson, cashier; and Diane Capilongo, baker.
ABOUT PARKHURST DINING
A member of Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Parkhurst Dining provides authentic culinary experiences to guests at the finest educational institutions, corporations and cultural destinations in its marketing region. Our foundation is built on personal relationships and exceeding the expectations of our guests and team members every day. Join us for a farm-fresh and sustainable dining experience. www.parkhurstdining.com
Grace Hoyer, Public Relations