Mountain Connection: September 12th, 2023
Students and faculty alike brushed off their ‘Steamboat formal’ attire last week for the first Community Dinner of the year, an SMS tradition held in the highest regard, especially by those of us who possess an insatiable appetite for culinary excellence. Dresses, collared shirts, the occasional tie, and even a few light sweaters that ushered in the dawn of autumn appeared from out of suitcases and were lightly ironed for an evening of polite conversation shared over exquisite cuisine. The air was wonderfully light and devoid of cell phones, as the prefects kicked off the event with a short reading – timely advice regarding empathic perspective sampled from Celeste Ng’s novel Little Fires Everywhere – and introduced the wonderful duo of chefs Olivia and Ruben, who welcomed guests and offered an overview of the amazing menu: a coconut, shrimp, fish, and tomato bake, turmeric curry basmati rice, thai vegetarian potstickers, steamed rainbow carrots and broccoli, homemade sweet chili and mint lime sauces, a mixed green salad with lime dressing, and strawberry shortcake cookies for dessert. Comme c’est magnifique! It’s obvious, too, that the kitchen staff cares deeply about the quality of the foods they present, not only in taste and nutritional value, but in variety, aesthetics, and accommodation for vegan and omnivorous palettes alike. Their delicious creations set the tone for the occasion, which was light, refreshing, tasteful, and satisfying.
Olivia, who is now Director of Culinary Services, has likewise added some notable refinements to the larger offerings in the dining room this year, all while continuing the outstanding quality of the fare at every meal. Since breakfast has been somewhat sporadically attended in recent years, she devised a rotating system by which four meals per week remain traditional sit-downs and are now punctuated by three intermittent days of DIY waffle irons, cold cereal with various fruit and nut accouterments, and grab-and-go options such as pre-made breakfast burritos and sausage biscuits that can be heated in either the (slower, meticulous) small convection oven or the (faster, gooier) microwave nearby. In accordance, she has generously altered breakfast times to better accommodate student schedules around morning classes and chores, extending the grab-and-go options in the pantry to 9:30 for students who might want to sleep in a bit (or foragers like me who may still thankfully consume a breakfast burrito even if we arrive at 7:43). Indeed, the Upper School remains one of the finest dining establishments in town, and we are fortunate that our size and appeal to personal good graces attracts outstanding and personable chefs who have the resources to be creative in their art and wonderfully interactive within the community. Olivia, Ruben, and Bennet (even though he was absent) were all given resounding applause from the attendees at Community Dinner last Tuesday, a fitting appreciation for their delectable contributions.