When: 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Sept. 23
Where: Noyer Centre
Adult Meals: $8.60 with tax
Children's Meals: $4.30 with tax
Imagine a giant cheese wheel, an ice sculpture and flashy signs with the faces of the chefs who are preparing both the classics and “nouveaux” brunch options.
Now imagine more than 1,000 people in Noyer Centre waiting to taste these dishes.
That’s how DJ Cleveland, marketing and communications specialist for Ball State dining, and chef Matt Hunter described this year’s “Meet the Chefs Brunch” during Family Weekend.
“We really want to have fun with Family Weekend this year, especially since it is Ball State’s centennial,” Cleveland said. “We want the experience for students and their families to be memorable. We want it to feel like home because it’s brunch, but also feel artsy, which is why we got the cheese wheel.”
In the past, Ball State dining hosted a brunch during Family Weekend every year, but Cleveland said it has fizzled out over the last few years.
During a brainstorming session this year, executive dining staff and chefs decided brunch was one event they wished had continued, so it was added to the list of Family Weekend events.
“With this being the centennial year, it seemed like bringing back a Fall favorite would play in well and help us remember our past, while still putting out a current style of brunch,” Cleveland said. “We also have both new and previous chefs on our team whose skills we want to showcase, and the brunch is a great outlet for that.”
There will be five chefs from across campus gathered in Noyer Centre, each creating a dish that displays their personal strengths. The five chefs are:
- Chef James Dowless from Woodworth Commons, making linguine with a homemade alfredo sauce.
- Chef Shannon Eastes from LaFollette Square, making waffles and ice cream sundaes.
- Chef Allen White from Noyer Centre, making carved ham, spinach and fontina bread pudding.
- Chef Stepfanie Miller from Elliott Dining, making yogurt parfaits.
- Chef Matt Hunter from Student Center Tally, making smoked salmon with peach vinaigrette.
For Hunter, this will mark both his first Family Weekend and his first brunch on campus.
“I’m looking forward to really seeing how the event works and all of the people I’ve been told are going to be there,” Hunter said. “The other chefs have told me a few horror stories about the amount of people, and I kind of want to see how it goes down and how it’s going to work.”
In order to prepare the 800 2-ounce servings of salmon in time for the brunch on Sunday, Sept. 23, Hunter started smoking the first batch Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Hunter said he got the idea to make salmon from Jason Reynolds, the general manager of Woodworth Dining, during a committee planning meeting. He also added that this will be his first time smoking salmon.
“No matter how much planning you do or how much you try and prepare for an event this big, it is always a challenge,” Hunter said. “There will always be something that doesn’t go the way you think that you have to work around.”
During the planning sessions, there was debate about where to host the event, and logistically, Cleveland said the Noyer Centre seemed the best fit because each chef could work at their own station. Also, because the Noyer Complex is next to a parking garage, it is more accessible for families who are not walking.
“We are looking forward to this event because it allows our chefs to collaborate together on a large meal and offer meal options that are not always available,” Cleveland said. “It is our chance to showcase our chefs’ talents out in the open and put on an exciting event for students and their families.”
In attempt to make the meal affordable for all families, Cleveland said adult meals will cost $8.60 with tax and children’s meals will cost $4.30 with tax. Any students with meal plans can also use their swipes to pay for themselves and two guests.
“Enjoying meals together is part of being a family; however, many of us eschew the dinner table for eating out,” Cleveland said. “In that sense, we want to provide a meal for all the different families and friends to come together and celebrate.”
The brunch will run from 9 a.m. until noon, and Cleveland said families can come and go as they have time.
“For us chefs, the people are like a double-edged sword,” Hunter said. “They’re exciting to see as well as frightening to see, but it should be a good time just seeing their faces and being able to interact with everyone on a personal level."