Heather Nesbitt Russell-Simmons, Epsilon Omega-Kentucky 2017-06-19 09:09:57
Chapter Chefs Nourish Kappa Deltas Any Kappa Delta familiar with a chapter house dining room knows the nourishment and community found there extend far beyond the body. Food brings people together; stories and experiences are shared, and memories are made. At three particular chapter homes, the chefs are serving up all of that and more. Whether being the heart of a home away from home, participating in philanthropic efforts or introducing members to world cuisine and music, the chefs at Epsilon Iota-Missouri, Beta Chi-North Carolina/Chapel Hill and Zeta Chi-Idaho are dedicated to nourishing chapter members, body and soul. CHEF STANLEY LEWIS, EPSILON IOTA-MISSOURI When Epsilon Iota-Missouri alumnae return to the chapter house, their first stop is the kitchen to visit chef Stanley Lewis who has been with the chapter for over 30 years, making him both an institution and the heart of the chapter. "Stanley makes this a home away from home for our members," says Bridgid Kinney, Epsilon Iota's house corporation president. The eighth of 14 children, Stanley was still in school when he took his first job washing dishes at the Ramada Inn in Columbia, Missouri. "I've been in the kitchen ever since," he says. He was washing pots and pans at a Hilton hotel when help was needed on the breakfast line. "I was nervous when I first started cooking, but I knew I could handle pancakes." Stanley's early days as a line cook centered on individual plates with customers ordering from a list of available options. At Epsilon Iota, he had to transition from individual plates to cooking for as many as 150 women at one time. "At first, I'd cook too little or too much," he says. "Now, everyone I feed gets a piece of meat and a slice of pie." "This facility holds 92 residents," says house director Marit Vogelsong. "All active members are welcome to all meals, which include three meals a day during the week and a Saturday brunch." As the lead cook, Stanley prepares weekday dinners and brunch. "And he's always willing to make a grilled cheese anytime someone just needs comfort food," Marit says. "We raised chickens when I was young," says Stanley. "I watched my mother cook every type of chicken you can imagine: beans and chickens, chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles. We ate it all." In his 30 years at Epsilon Iota, Stanley has added to his list of foods. "The girls bring in recipes from home, and we try them. If the recipe is popular, we keep it," he says. Due to his longevity, chef Stanley is also the resident historian. Marit says, "Stanley has made my job so much easier by answering questions like, 'When did we get the third floor air conditioner?' " Stanley says he's been offered other jobs. "But I say, 'I'm a KD, so that's where I'll stay.' " CHEF KRISTIN MCCARTHY, BETA CHI-NORTH CAROLINA/ CHAPEL HILL Over the past five years, chef Kristin McCarthy has raised close to $10,000 to support Kappa Delta philanthropies. As a mother, she was especially interested in how the chapter supported Prevent Child Abuse America. "I figured if the girls are doing this, then how can I make a difference?" she asks. "I'm in the background, so how can I be a better chef and person? How can I do more?" Kristin thought her Mends might like to buy extra meals she prepared for the chapter, and she could donate that money to support the chapter's Shamrock Event. "With the house corporation's approval, I'm able to do Meals to Go at the sorority house," she says. "Once every month of the school year, I post a menu on Facebook where people place their orders. I double whatever I'm cooking for the girls that night, so I only have to prep one time." Regardless of the menu – pretzel-crusted chicken, home-style mac and cheese and dessert is a favorite – Kristin serves around 150 dinners to the chapter and packs another 120 for Meals to Go, feeding an additional 20-30 families who sign up in advance. Given the popularity of her cooking, it is no wonder the Meals to Go program has been such a triumph. "I'll put it this way," says Erin Walden Crook, a Beta Chi alumna and member of the chapter advisory board, "When chef Kristin posts a picture of a meal she's preparing to serve the chapter, alumnae flood the comments with things like, 'I'm so jealous right now!' " Those comments are the result of Kristin's food philosophy: to stay on top of trends without becoming trendy. She does that by attending the annual Women Chef and Restaurateurs conference, reading Bon Appetit and similar magazines, listening to podcasts such as "Radio Cherry Bombe" and talking with farmers. "Cauliflower is huge now," Kristin says. "That was nothing three years ago!" To plan seasonal menus with local produce, Kristin emailed 10 local farmers looking for a partnership. One replied. "She was in a sorority and loved the idea of being able to call and tell me she has 30 pounds of something," Kristin says. "This fall, she'll have collards and sweet potatoes to offer." A graduate of Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts, Kristin moved to Durham, North Carolina, and was hired as a line cook. "I was not good at that," she says with a laugh. "Working the grill was four hours of cooking meats and proteins, one dish at a time." Fortunately, Kristin found a mentor who worked on banquets, and she discovered cooking for larger quantities felt more natural. "It was easier for me to think, prep and cook for 150 all at once than it was to think, prep and cook for 40-60 people, one at a time." Kristin was approached by Beta Chi's house corporation and asked to help transition the kitchen to a healthier focus. "I was offered the position as head chef in 2004, and I've been here ever since," she says. When Eta Upsilon-North Carolina State built its house, Kristin was called to help design the kitchen and hire and train a chef. What inspires chef Kristin to commit so fully to Kappa Delta? "The members are strong women," she says. "They inspire me to do better for them, feed them well and nurture them. Over the years, I've watched them grow into leaders and incredible people with careers and families – and I'm part of that!" Executive Chef Bashir Rahim , Zeta Chi -Idaho The son of a German mother who played guitar and an African father who played the drums, executive chef Bashir Rahim grew up in a house filled with food and music. He continues that combination today at Zeta Chi-Idaho with music for every meal. A menu of shrimp stir-fry, pot stickers and fried rice includes traditional Chinese music. "The girls know the food based on the music I play while I'm cooking," he says. "Salsa, Italian, Middle Eastern, it's always related to the food." Chef B, as he is known to the KDs, has more than 30 years experience in food service and came to Zeta Chi two years ago as a traveling chef for Upper Crust Food Services tasked with kitchen management. He now manages the kitchens of three sorority and two fraternity houses on campus. "But Kappa Delta is my central house," Chef B says. "It's where I cook for about 65 members." He uses his studies in world cuisine to introduce the Kappa Deltas to new flavors. The fun part, he says, is when the members get excited about dinner, when they ask, "Chef B, is that curry I smell?" New flavors can also be found in old favorites. "I make chicken and dumplings the way my mom made them – a natural dumpling, not a rolled-out noodle," says Chef B. This favorite dish was served as a Christmas appetizer in his childhood home. "You got one dumpling and a couple of butterballs in your broth," he says, clarifying that a butterball is a dumpling with more butter and seasoned with nutmeg. Because he prides himself on versatility, Chef B is always up for a challenge. "And they literally challenge me," he says. "One of the women studied abroad, and when she got back, she asked me to cook a meal she had overseas." Chef B is happy to oblige such requests. "I want them to be happy," he says. "If a student in the house doesn't like the food, then she spends her time and energy figuring out what else to eat, and it's usually fast food. We are contracted to provide nutritious meals, so special needs are not an issue. The chefs I hire cook from scratch and have the knowledge to prepare everything from gluten-free to vegetarian to low-sodium diets." Knowing how to cater to changing tastes and diets is crucial in Chef B's profession. "Chefs are like cell phones," he says. "We have to update every four years to grow in the industry, or we fall behind." His philosophy is simple: Eat well, study well, do well. "I'm cooking for the future. I know my food has a purpose." Plus, he says, "They're friendly when they're not hungry!" Click here in the digital edition to view recipes from these featured chapter housing chefs.
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