Celebrity chef dishes out gourmet Greylock dinner

Stereotypical ideas of cafeteria food hardly conjure images of gourmet meals fit for the president, but students were treated to such a deluxe dinner at Greylock last Thursday. Chef Neil Connolly, former personal chef of the Kennedy family and current chef and partner of Doc’s Restaurant in Florida, came to the dining hall to help prepare a spring buffet for students. As a senior who’s not on a meal plan, I only venture out to the dining halls on special occasions, and this was surely one of them.

The menu strove for seasonality, using springtime favorites like asparagus and keeping most of the dishes on the light and sweeter side. Most of the dishes were successful; however, there were some that fell short as well.
The two soup options proved to be the strongest. The first, the spring asparagus soup with leeks, had a clean yet pronounced flavor, a freshness that was quite fitting for the recent spring weather. The second, the Hyannisport fish chowder, which seemed like the closest we are ever going to get the classic Kennedy Cape Cod fare on campus, had big chunks of fish and a rich consistency that is sometimes hard to achieve when cooking chowder in such large quantities.

The field greens with poached pears and stilton were studded with walnuts, a combination of flavors that’s usually hard to mess up, but the salad suffered from too little dressing, leaving most of the greens tasteless. The sautéed lemon sole was a great idea, but the fish I had was quite cold. The lemon sauce was tasty, but like the salad, the dish suffered from its frugal quantities.

The coconut-crusted chicken with a mango cream was a creative take on chicken and was sweet without being too cloying, unlike the citrus-glazed carrots. Though other vegetable sides were quite good, they weren’t out of the ordinary from some of the great dishes that the College already serves. The braised cabbage got a smoky kick from the bacon, while the Swiss chard with shiitake mushrooms and sweet red pepper was reminiscent of past Delftree dishes.

Perhaps most disappointing were the chive rice cakes and the Irish bread pudding. The rice cakes were dry, hard and didn’t have much flavor beyond a musty off-putting aftertaste, while the bread pudding, which was also dry and hard, could have done with a sauce of some kind, like whiskey or caramel, to bring it back to life.
However, the Wexford trifle was a great success – the mini trifles consisted of layers of strawberries, cake and ultra-rich, fresh whipped cream, and were served in large wine goblets. It was festive, delicious and a wonderful way to end the meal.

The food at the Greylock dinner was a step above the typical college fare that helped me regain some of my Freshman 15 from way back when. Although it’s an honor that Chef Connolly came to cook for us, I’m proud that our food is great everyday, with or without a celebrity chef.