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Lents ’95: Defining Chicago’s Fine Dining

Chef Thomas Lents '95 in the kitchen of Sixteen at Trump Tower.

Chef Thomas Lents ’95 in the kitchen of Sixteen at Trump Tower.

Howard Hewitt – There’s fine dining then there is Michelin-starred fine dining. A meal that can best be described as a Cirque du Soleil for the palate comes in 17 plates, matching wine, and impeccable service. It’s delivered on the sixteenth floor of Chicago’s Trump Tower by Executive Chef Thomas Lents ’95.

Grilled lobster on rice with uni and coffee, served with sparkling saké.

Grilled lobster on rice with uni and coffee, served with sparkling saké.

Lents is executive chef at Sixteen in the newest Windy City Landmark wearing the badges of culinary excellence – two Michelin stars and a top-rating of five stars from the Forbes Travel Guide. And oh, he’s also nominated for a 2015 James Beard Award for Great Lakes Region Best Chef. For non foodies, a James Beard nomination is often compared to an Academy Award.

The Philosophy major and former TKE said in a Wednesday interview his job is about creating the story for the high-end meal. He made it clear that visitors need to leave with more than just a great meal and a big check. The Sixteen chef serves his customers through story-telling and a fusion of dining expectations from the past, present and future. If there was ever a liberal arts approach to dining, it sits in the dining room with the fabulous view along the Chicago River. Its neighbor is city landmark the Wrigley Building.

Lents’ background is impressive in Europe and several of the United States’ top restaurants. He joined Sixteen as executive chef after a stint at 3-Michelin-star Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas restaurant. Lents served as Chef de Cuisine – the first American-born chef to hold that position for the legendary French chef.

The dining experience – and it is an experience more than just supper – leaves one gasping for the right words. The Winter menu includes a snack starter of four small bites, an appetizer, a first and second course, a main course, then four transitions (think palate cleanser) before dessert. It’s magically paired with wine, beer, and even Sake’ by Sommelier Dan Pilkey.

On Wednesday two of us tasted 17 plates with delicacies like peppered mackerel, cuttlefish, King crab, langoustine, cipollini onion salad, sweet breads, foie gras, monkfish, venison, and much more – much, much more. Seriously.

Sixteen is an experience. The meal, and its cost, is once-in-a-lifetime for most of us not named Trump. It’s food porn. It’s way over the top with world-class service. It’s one heck of a story about a Wabash man from Kellogg, Michigan, telling stories with fine cuisine.

Lents’ story, the food, and some great photography will be featured in the next issue of Wabash Magazine.

 

Students Make Conference Presentation

Miller, Bleisch, Bode

Miller, Bleisch, Bode

NEW ORLEANS, La. – This past weekend we (Joshua Bleisch ’16, Nathan Bode ’16, and Dylan Miller ’16) traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) to present the results of an independent research project we have been working on with Dr. Shamira Gelbman for the past year. The project, entitled “Activism in the Digital Age: Evidence from Freedom Indiana’s Twitter Feed,” looks at the way the coalition group Freedom Indiana used Twitter to mobilize its followers to take political action. While at the conference, we attended a handful of panel discussions on a variety of topics, ranging from judicial politics to the implications of the Affordable Care Act on reproductive rights. We also met other political scientists who research the use of Twitter by political organizations and politicians.

We presented our research as part of a panel regarding the development of interest group networks. Our presentation went well and garnered great questions and discussion among the audience and panel members. From the discussion, we were able to identify potential areas for development and improvement in our research. If the opportunity presents itself, we now have a good grasp of where we would like to take this research in the future.

This independent study has allowed us to develop stronger research skills as well as an interesting insight into the life of academia, especially political science. We would like to thank Dr. Gelbman for her mentorship and allowing us to be co-authors on this project. We would also like to thank the Hadley Fund, Division III, the Political Science Department, and the Undergraduate Research Committee of Wabash College for providing the financial support that enabled us to present our research at this conference.

Junior Will Video Blog from Argentina

Howard W. Hewitt – In the always-changing world of social media, higher education continues to experiment and try new things. We have blogged, used most of the major social media platforms but never really video blogged.

Next semester Nathan Bode ’16, a former freshman blogger, will spend his spring semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nate has been one of our better College users of social media and came to us with the idea of video blogging during his study abroad. We agreed it was a great idea.

We’ll post his blog url for the videos when he departs in February. But to get an idea of what he has in mind Nate check out his intro video.

 

Burnett ’15 Reflects on Winning Rhodes

Wabash’s newest Rhodes Scholar took to the pages of The Bachelor today to reflect on the process and winning the great academic honor. Here is his column written to and for his fellow students.

Jacob Burnett ’15 – I know you are tired of reading my name and hearing about this scholarship. However, I just wanted to take some time to express my perspective on this event. So, if you read anything about me in relation to the Rhodes, please choose this one; the words are mine and mine alone.

Firstly, the scholarship isn’t about Oxford or the 15 minutes of fame that stem from it. It’s not about the College or even about me. The Rhodes Scholarship allows certain students the opportunity to develop skills that teach us to fight for others: the students that never had a chance, the exhausted mother or father who needs support, the condemned, those simply struggling, and the forgotten. It doesn’t even have to be about changing the world; it does have to focus on how we, as the privileged, will help change at least one person’s world.

BurnetMugtMany Rhodes Scholars take the noble path of becoming professors: educating young men and women to become more than egocentric individuals – to care about the world around them. The individuals that I will come to serve will not necessarily place value on the fact that I was named a Rhodes Scholar; they will value the time and the energy I will invest into them and their lives – something too few of us forget to do in this busy world.

Secondly, something no one informs you about before you receive this or any other life-changing scholarship is the complex amount of emotions that culminate inside your soul. Everyone expects pure happiness, which is part of the equation, but it is not the sole emotion. I sat in a conference room with 12 remarkable students; each finalist equally deserved and earned this recognition. I had the pleasure of learning many of their stories and their goals. The Rhodes Scholarship selection committee on the evening of November 22nd had one of the most difficult jobs in this country: choosing two students whose lives will never be the same. After the chairwoman of the committee said my name, I was aghast and utterly speechless – you feel every emotion at once. You are stunned.

After reflecting on this entire process, I felt a profound sense of guilt that has followed me since that Saturday. Not the type of guilt riddled with connotations of negativity, but guilt that intimately connects with questions of “why.” It also comes with a special burden – now, if I fail in any sense, I’m the Rhodes Scholar that didn’t live up to the name. I don’t mean to complain in any way about this honor; I am overwhelmingly happy. It’s just not as simple as boiling the feeling down to elation. I had a whole Costco-sized humble pie. It reminded me to keep my head in the clouds but my feet on the ground.

Lastly, I want to make something very clear: if Wabash hopes to have more fellowship recipients, it must do more. I fundamentally believe that no college or university can make someone into a fellowship scholar of any kind. However, it can provide opportunities for students who have the necessary interests, skills, and passion to develop into the person who wants to fight the world’s fight. It’s an orientation of the spirit. Wabash needs more opportunities and funding for students to engage in research, ensuring that the Graduate Fellowship Advisor position becomes permanent, alternative spring break opportunities, meaningful and sincere volunteer work, and most importantly, Wabash needs to flex and attract academic muscles. These are not meant to be criticisms, rather, they are observations.

People want to congratulate me on this accomplishment, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Susan Albrecht, Dr. Morillo, and all eight individuals who wrote me letters of recommendation: Dr. Jennifer Abbott, Dr. Michael Burch, Dr. Ethan Hollander, Dr. Robert Horton, Scott Himsel J.D., Arthur Ago J.D., Julia Leist, and Gina Paniagua. I am grateful for all the teachers (both in the classroom and out of it) and friends who never gave up on me. I’d like to thank alumni who have allowed me to intern with them as well as the generous donors who have funded many of my experiences at Wabash.

Finally, I will be forever indebted to my mother, Rita Burnett. A woman who has taught me more about compassion, love, strength, and courage than any person I have met; she is relentlessly noble. She loved me into being. This is our award.

I do not believe that the Rhodes Scholarship makes me special in any way or a better person than I was before the announcement. It allows me a chance to become a well-equipped warrior.

Hess, Raeburn Raise Alumni “Spirit” for Bell

Little Gian Head Coach Erik Raeburn

Little Giant Head Coach Erik Raeburn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – With the demise of the long-running Monon Stag, members of the Indianapolis Association of Wabash men established a new event – the “Spirit of the Monon Bell.”

DePauw alums and administration pulled out of the annual banquet and roast after last year’s event. Then the Indianapolis men swung into action and created the Thursday night event. nearly 130 Wabash men, significant others, and friends gathered at the historic City Market to celebrate the Monon Bell series. See photos from Thursday’s gathering here.

The IAWM welcomed President Gregory Hess, Coach Erik Raeburn and numerous college leaders joining area alums. President Hess lauded the support and enthusiasm of Wabash alumni and introduced the head coach. Raeburn took his time to entertain with self-deprecating remarks and a few jabs at NCAC officials.

He noted that “Wabash Always Fights” isn’t limited to the football team but every student who attends Wabash.

The group enjoyed small plates, Sun King brews, and the camaraderie of Wabash grads of all generations.

Social Media Changes Part of College Life

Howard W. Hewitt – The only constant in social media is change. Social media is here to stay. The only certain thing is that it will be different tomorrow, next month, or next year.

Facebook has 1.29 billion users worldwide. Twitter has nearly 300 million users around the world.

find-us-on-facebook-logos-1024x245Wabash Communications and Marketing has recently refocused its social media approach to be more focused and less of a shotgun method.

Here is an easy example to make the point. We used to post to Facebook 30-40-50 times a month but our reach, those who actually see the page, was quite low. That was frustrating so we took the advice of cutting edge social media firm, Blue Fuego, which serves higher education.

Immediately we cut our Facebook posts down to 12-15 a month, fewer links to take site visitors elsewhere, and we concentrated on engaging photos. The results have been overwhelming. Since Blue Fuego started measuring our engagement June 1, our level of activity has increased 151 percent!

instagram-logoWe’ve added several new social media outlets as well. Check out the photos on our Instagram page.  Be sure to follow our account and instagram_heart40 (heart) the ones you like best.

podcast-logoMedia Center Director Adam Bowen has written about our new series of Podcasts. Podcasts are ideal for travelers, business men on planes, and those who want an extended interview instead of a snippet. Read Adam’s post for more details on Wabash Podcasts.

While not exactly a social media tool, the College recently invested in a drone. The photos and video from high above 301 Wabash Ave. have drawn lots of attention on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’re always in the business of recruiting new Wabash men. We have adapted a popular social media platform introduced by Blue Fuego to just one other college. The Brotherhood is a fun and ever-changing look at the men, faculty and staff of Wabash College. Scroll through a few pages to get a look at the Wabash Community.

twitter logoWe remain active on Twitter with daily posts and nearly 2,000 followers. Our YouTube channel is where you can find the latest videos and every Thursday’s Chapel Talk. Our University LinkedIn page provides alums and all of the Wabash community to connect.

Social Media is an always-changing medium. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. It requires flexibility, creativity, and consistent messaging.

Hewitt is Wabash College’s Director of Digital Media.

Podcasts Offer Deeper Look at Wabash

Adam Bowen – The Media Center in conjunction with Communications & Marketing recently launched an institutional podcast called Wabash On My Mind, in honor of the book written by former president Byron K. Trippet. We’re excited about the unique possibilities of the format to continue to tell the Wabash story.

Laura Wysocki

Laura Wysocki

Our hope for this podcast is that it will become a place where long-form conversations take place between faculty, visiting lecturers, students, or anyone on campus with a compelling story.  We would ultimately love for the podcast booth to become a routine stop for visiting scholars to discuss their work, life, and scholarship while here on campus.  We have many people on campus with fascinating backgrounds and strongly encourage community members to submit proposals for podcast episodes.

The podcast is released every Monday at noon and can be found in iTunes by searching “Wabash On My Mind”.  We have also developed standalone apps for both Android and iOS.  The app can also be found by searching “Wabash On My Mind” in iTunes or the Google Play store.  The link for the podcast can also be found with our other social media links on the Wabash homepage.

If you are interested in scheduling a podcast interview, please contact Adam Bowen in the Media Center for details.

Wabash Men Have Fun Time for Good Cause

http://youtu.be/0MRAh5UqnqM

Howard W. Hewitt – Wabash leadership, faculty and staff take their jobs very seriously.

Wabash students obviously take their studies and extra-curricular activities seriously.

Corey

Egler

But at times we lament that we just don’t have enough fun. While that is arguably not true, we know there is always fun lurking around the next corer. A social media/pop music fad that started in Kentucky has swept the nation. So the long story made short is a group of fraternity men at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., set the bar really high with a no-edit lip-sync of Taylor Swift’s hit “Shake it Off.” By the way, that pop hit has more than 170 million views on YouTube. The Transylvania guys are nearing a quarter million views. The initial video challenged visitors to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society/

Nate

Bode

Those Transylvania Delta Sigma Chi gentlemen really started something. The Challenge was created to get other colleges involved to raise awareness of a good cause. Colleges across the nation are now dancing to #CollegeShakeOff and #ShakeItUp. Students at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) danced to the Swift hit and challenged IU, Purdue and Wabash College. The Jaguars wanted to raise suicide awareness.

Myers

Myers

So when Wabash men are challenged, they answer the call. The craze came to our attention in the Communications and Marketing office. We turned it totally over to students Corey Egler ’15 and Nathan Bode ’16. Those two deserve all the credit along with videographer Austin Myers ’16.

They managed to talk students, faculty, and staff into dancing for the video. Oh, and their is a brief cameo by one administrator you might recognize. The Wabash men decided to raise awareness for Men’s Health – something of a tradition at Wabash during Movember.

Serious fun!

 

A Lot Goes Into Creating Web Video

Clayton Randolph ’16 – Most people know little about what it takes to conduct an interview, be it video, paper, or any other type of media. The opportunity was presented to me by Associate Director of Communications and Marketing, Richard Paige, to come along and observe.

The goal was to feature what goes on behind the scenes of an interview, in this case a video interview. Adam Bowen, who is the Director of the Media Center, can blow your socks off with his knowledge about video. He knows how to adjust the lights just right, how to make sure the camera angle is near perfect, and can make the audio sound crisp and clean.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes.

Adam brought along two of his summer interns to help with the setup of the interview. Each of the three prepared lights, adjusted cameras, and checked audio. Two cameras, two microphones, three lights, an extra light bulb, extension cords, audio/video cables, and carrying cases comprised the interview room. See photos from our video shoot here.

Setting up the scene can be a challenge. Making sure cameras are in the right place, for the best shot, with the best height, the best light, and everything else in between, is tough. It takes patience. Adam and his interns scurried around setting things up before our first guest arrived. One reflection, and I feel this is true for most, deadlines put people on edge.

The interview was featured Cameron McDougal ’12 and will appear on the Wabash website. Cameron is a bright guy who encompasses everything a Wabash man is and should be. He was actively involved in many activities throughout his time at Wabash. Ask anyone, and they will say what a genuine, caring person McDougal is. The end product will be a short three- to five-minute video interview detailing McDougal’s journey through Wabash and his career choice. The underlying theme of the video is the question of ‘What can I do with a liberal arts degree?’ Cameron embodies that motto. He came to Wabash knowing he wanted to be a dentist, but after taking biochemistry, he opted against it. Instead, he is working towards becoming an agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

For the interview, we were situated in a conference room, which had some trouble accommodating all of the gear plus five to seven other people. It was a little tight but, we made it work and ended up with a neat place for shooting. Between five different combinations of people, Kyle Bender ’12, Mac McNaught ‘76, McNaught/Cameron McDougal ’12, McDougal, and Greg Shipp ‘11, we accumulated around 90 minutes of video. Adam’s team can only make a three to five minute piece. That’s a lot of editing.

Once the interviews commenced, I was able to take some photos of what it’s like behind the camera. Although we are not ESPN, CNN or even Channel 13, the pictures give you an idea of what behind-the-scenes looks like for a video interview. Imagine being in front of multiple cameras and having to answer questions in a clear and concise manner, while five or more people watch. It can be intense.

It’s sometimes intense on the other side of the camera as well.

Clayton Randolph is a rising Junior at Wabash College and current intern in the Communications and Marketing Department.

 


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