Chefs Michael Ruhlman and Jordan Hall

Howard W. Hewitt – Success events require detailed planning and thinking a bit out of the box for real success. Food author and Celebrity Chef Michael Ruhlman’s visit was enhanced by the participation of Bon Appetit.

Ruhlman could have come and done his two talks, visited Marc Hudson’s writing class, and done a couple of interviews and everyone would probably have been satisfied.

But when Bon Appetit was approached to be a part of this unique Visiting Lecture guest, General Manager Mary Jo Johnston and Chef Jordan Hall jumped at the opportunity. Now as an aside, not every event lends itself to enhancement but many could.

Catering Manager Kecia Tatman setting up dessert

The most visible participation was Sparks’ noon, Oct. 16, lunch. Chef Hall selected five recipes for lunch. Ruhlman visited the food line Thursday before Sparks opened for lunch and was genuinely thrilled that his recipes were used by the College caterer. He even tasted a couple of the dishes.

(Personal aside, the buttermilk chicken was awesome. And, according to Mary Jo, the chicken disappeared before the end of serving.)

Bon Appetit, or more specifically Executive Chef Jordan Hall, got the chance to really show off at a private evening dinner. Hall supervised the Trippet kitchen and prepared a high-end restaurant worthy menu that had the 18 attendees raving.


Just take a look at the menu:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Biscotti Crumble and Marshmallow Crème

Ruhlman’s Dutch Oven Bread

Sautéed Scallop with Asparagus

Pan Seared Hybrid Striped Bass with Sunchoke Au Gratin with Truffle Oil Drizzle

Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Glazed Pears

It was “wows” all around!

Chef Ruhlman paid a visit to Hall’s kitchen before serving. “Meeting Michael Ruhlman was a distinct pleasure and having the chance to cook for him was an absolute honor,” Hall said. “His books “Soul of a Chef” and “The Making of a Chef” are two of the most in-depth looks into what it means and takes to become one.  For years there have been many cherished books in my culinary library but none of them have I found more interesting and profound as Chef Ruhlman’s. It was a great experience and a definite high point in my career. “

It’s always good to give your best a chance to show off. Mary Jo Johnston had to be a very proud manager Tuesday night!