Dining halls dish out special holiday menus

Feb. 25, 2024, 10:54 p.m.

Over the past two months, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) cooked up a variety of special holiday menus in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mardi Gras and Lunar New Year. All three events were widely popular among students for their festive options. 

“[Holiday menus] are a fun way to eat something new and draw your attention to a specific event,” said Ann Vu ’27, who tried the Martin Luther King Jr. Day menu. “It’s a special day.” 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A photo of the dining hall options served on MLK Jr. Day, including sandwiches and meat.
Some of the entrée offerings from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day menu. (Photo: ALANA BELLE M. TIRADO/The Stanford Daily)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day menu was served campus-wide on Jan. 15 and featured popular soul food dishes, ranging from BBQ chicken to sweet iced tea. 

Kass Cargile ’27, hailing from Tennessee, tried the entire menu. She particularly enjoyed the pork in the BBQ pork slider. “It’s really good, but Californians can’t make coleslaw like the South can,” she said.

“The BBQ chicken for sure is a hit, and the mac and cheese,” Emmy Echevarria Muniz ’27 added in between bites. 

Though students generally enjoyed the menu’s offerings, they also offered critiques of certain dishes, including the collard greens.

“Collard greens give you the vibe of an old person, because they’re so shriveled and wrinkled,” Cargile joked. “These are more like middle aged greens. They’re not quite there yet.” 

Echevarria Muniz, who was most excited about the desserts, said that they were the most disappointing part of the menu. “The peach cobbler is pre-made pie crust, canned peaches, and then breadcrumbs on top,” Echevarria Muniz said. 

R&DE recreated some of their Martin Luther King Jr. Day menu for Mardi Gras, including the mac and cheese and the braised collard greens. 

Mardi Gras

Dining halls dish out special holiday menus
Dessert offerings from the Lakeside Mardi Gras menu. (Photo: HELEN KATZ/The Stanford Daily)

The Mardi Gras menu, served at Lakeside on Feb. 13, featured several Creole entrées, including crab andouille gumbo, po’boys and etouffee. Leading up to the event, shimmering gold, green and purple metallic decorations — as well as elaborately decorated masks and jesters — adorned Lakeside in honor of Mardi Gras. 

The event’s menu was the brainchild of chef, cookbook author and Brown Sugar Kitchen owner Tanya Holland, who has partnered with R&DE for the past eight years to incorporate elements of Southern comfort food into its menus. 

“It’s really fun to get the reaction from the students, especially those who are from the South who know this holiday and who know this cuisine. It makes them feel at home,” said Holland, whose family roots in Louisiana have inspired her passion for its culinary traditions. 

“I’m a Louisiana native, so this is my favorite day in Lakeside,” said Liand Ozoemelam ’25. “They changed it up a little bit the past couple years, but there’s always delicious food and amazing vibes.” 

Holland said she also enjoys sharing the unique flavor profiles of Creole cuisine with students who are not familiar with it.

“It’s great gaining exposure to different types of food. I haven’t had most of this cuisine before, so it’s wonderful having these new experiences,” said Jesse Juduhbaram ’27. 

Although many students said that dinner was hard to top, the smorgasbord of dessert options was their favorite part of the event. The confections included beignets with salted caramel sauce, caramelized banana foster a la mode, sweet potato pie and king cake — a staple of any Mardi Gras celebration. 

“The beignets were so delicious, but I was blown away by the king cake,” said Creagh Factor ’27. “There’s nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a thick, fluffy slice of king cake, with icing and colorful sugar dusting.” 

Lunar New Year

Dining halls dish out special holiday menus
Students line up to try the Lunar New Year menu. (Photo: ALANA BELLE M. TIRADO/The Stanford Daily)

The most popular of the three menus was the Lunar New Year menu served at Wilbur on Feb. 8. Wilbur, which opens at 5 p.m., was swarmed by early birds trying to beat the long lines. 

“My roommate lined up at 4 p.m., and I thought she was exaggerating but she was not,” said Taylor Torres ’27. 

For many students, the food was well worth the long wait. 

“I really liked the dumplings,” J.B. Lim ’24 said. He highlighted the fried rice, saying “we usually have it at Wilbur but today it tastes different […] I hope they do this more often.”

“I had the ube ice cream, and it was really good,” Yoonah Lee ’23 said. “Overall, I like the diversity of the food.”

Wrapping up another year of festivities with an abundant turn-out, Holland emphasized the events’ aim in bringing students together over shared meals. 

“When you try food from a different place, it’s like traveling there. And maybe one day, if anyone here has an event in New Orleans, they can say ‘Oh my god, remember that Mardi Gras at Stanford?’” Holland said. “I just think it’s great exposure for the students and everyone.”

Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska Class of 2027 @the_alanabelle

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