The College remains closed and classes have moved online, but for those craving Dawn’s Chili, street tacos or other campus favorites, Union’s Hospitality has cooked up a plan to please the palate.
Each Friday at 4 p.m. during the spring term, “Cooking with Chef Patrick” airs via Zoom from the kitchen at College Park Hall. The 30-minute segments feature Patrick Longton, campus executive chef for American Dining Creations, Union’s food service provider.
A chef for nearly 25 years, Longton was executive chef at Longfellows Hotel and Restaurant and Wishing Well, both in nearby Saratoga Springs, before joining Union four years ago. He has won a stock pot full of honors, including the grand award in the American Culinary Federation’s Culinary Cornucopia competition in 2000. He took top honors at the Capital Region’s “Cast Iron Chef Invitational” in 2012.
Longton and Jim Meagher, Union’s director of Hospitality, came up with the idea for the show as a way to engage with students, faculty and staff during the campus lockdown.
“We like to feature signature items from our dining program that we know people, especially the students, love,” said Longton. He describes his style of cooking as “rustic American cuisine,” with strong French, Italian and Asian influences.
The campus community is provided with a Zoom link in the daily campus events email. Also included is a list of ingredients for those who plan to cook along with Longton.
The first episode featured chicken parmesan over penne, followed by street tacos with chicken beef barbacoa or jackfruit. This week’s episode has Longton preparing a ninja pickle fried chicken sandwich. The pickles are homemade and some of the pickle brine is used to marinate the chicken.
The menu is served that night to the 60 students still on campus because they are unable to return home.
Future themes include dim sum and barbeque. Viewers are encourage to suggest ideas.
“We’ve put a lot of thought and preparation into the show,” said Longton. “We really want to make a great dining experience for our campus community, especially during this challenging time. It’s a great way for all of us to stay connected.”
Kayla Fisher ’20 has watched the first two episodes from her family’s home in Tarrytown, N.Y. She had to wait a couple of days to make the chicken parm because the grocery stores near her were out of chicken.
“I know Chef Patrick and have always enjoyed what he's cooked, so I wanted to be able to see him cook,” said the biomedical engineering major. “It's also nice to see people from campus, even if it's through Zoom instead of in person. The cooking series is a way to partially stay connected to one part of Union.”
One of her favorite meals is the tomato mozzarella sandwich from the 807 Deli. She would love to see it featured in a future episode.
“I do miss their fresh sandwiches,” Fisher said. “I'm sure many others miss their sandwiches, too. There was always a long line on days that there was a specialty sandwich.”