Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Cooking up Community: Bon Appetit Collabs with Clubs

Illustration by Gus Colwell

Scents of rosemary and thyme waft through 80 degree heat down Isaacs and toward campus. On Saturday, Sept. 16, Chef Jon and the Bon Appétit team partnered with the Organic Garden Club to present a build-it-yourself pizza party. Collected straight from the garden or the Walla Walla area, ingredients like homemade dough, tomatoes, squash and cheese from the Walla Walla Cheese Co. were offered to Whitman students and prepared by Bon Appétit staff in the Whitman College Organic Garden.

This is not the first collaboration between Cleveland Commons and student clubs; staff and students have been working together to create many accessible experiences with food. Partnerships like these are found everywhere on campus. Events like those hosted with the Garden Club and the suggestion board in Cleve let students engage with the meals they’re eating.

Culinary Director Jon Sodini emphasizes and accepts student opinions or comments as a means of connecting and sharing food.

“We’re here to provide food, meals and experiences for the students,” Sodini said.

Chef Jon holds working with students and student clubs as a top priority. Since the beginning of his tenure at Whitman, he’s taken opportunities to work with student organizations and make cooking more accessible and fun for students.

“I love cooking classes and demos. It began here a few years ago when the Cooking and Culinary Club started. That was so much fun, and we started expanding and offering to work with more clubs,” Sodini said.

This mentality spreads beyond Sodini and is shared by the Bon Appétit team at large.

Shannon Null, Whitman’s Bon Appétit General Manager, agrees that hands-on learning about food and cooking benefits students and has become an essential piece of the Whitman education as a whole.

“The main goal is making sure students are provided the best education but also served the best food and overall experience at Whitman College,” Null said.

Both Null and Sodini view food as a practical way to enrich student experience and provide relevant experience when working with clubs.

The care and attention Bon Appétit staff provide are also recognized by student clubs, who are free to reach out to Chef Jon to organize events. Garden Club treasurer Megan Marshall, as well as other members of the club, found working with Chef Jon and the BonApp team efficient and fun.

“Clubs can choose to work with BonApp to have delicious food at their events! Our pizza parties have been our best-attended events,” Marshall said.

Sodini and Null also emphasized ease of communication as critical to them when working with clubs. Chef Jon considers several factors of what would appeal to students and the clubs he works with.

“What would be fun to teach, what would be fun to learn and what would be practical. We brainstorm what would be great and what would be good and what would be fun, or relevant for everyone,” Sodini said.

According to both students and the Bon Appétit team, working with Cleve boosts student attendance and engagement with clubs and their values. The Garden Club’s pizza party, for example, worked with Bon Appétit to maintain sustainable practices during the event.

“The build-your-own style [of pizza] let students choose their preferred toppings and avoid anything they didn’t want. Chef Jon also helped us serve some of our organically grown garden produce at the pizza party by harvesting it and preparing it for us,” Marshall said.

Members of the Organic Garden Club, Marshall included, saw collaborating with Cleve as a chance to act sustainably, which was an appealing ideal to the Garden Club and one of Bon Appétit’s core values.

For Null and the Cleve team, working with students reflects personal and community values centered around collaboration. Encouraging sustainable practices, both in dining halls and through engagement with the campus community at large, is a sign of the work they’ve done.

“We are really proud of what we’ve done and what we’re doing going forward, it’s good changes being made,” Null said.

Null, Sodini and members of the Organic Garden Club each expressed a desire to continue collaborating and hinted at exciting future projects as well. Thanks to the work of Bon Appétit staff and student organizations, Whitman students can pull up a chair and enjoy the feast.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *