After the success of Chef Mike’s Sub Shop and Chef Don’s Pizza Pi, the sky’s the limit for Columbia Dining collabs.
The past year has been a whirlwind of new eateries on campus, including Faculty House, Chef Mike’s Sub Shop, and most recently, Chef Don’s Pizza Pi. These last two additions illustrate the rise of the Columbia celebrity chef—you can’t start a dining hall on this campus without a big name attached. Chef Mike and Chef Don have proven their success in dining hall creation with both Chef Mike’s Sub Shop and Chef Don’s Pizza Pi receiving positive reviews from Bwog and buzz in the Columbia community. I believe that Columbia Dining should capitalize on this success by creating even more dining halls affiliated with big names on campus.
Without further ado, here are the campus icons that I believe deserve their own dining halls.
James “Deantini” Valentini
Deantini feels like an obvious candidate to create his own dining hall considering he’s probably Columbia’s most beloved (former) administrator. Although Deantini is happily working as a chemistry professor at Columbia, I sense that he’s missing his larger connection to the student body that his former job title offered him. Therefore, I propose that Deantini be the star of a brand new dining hall: Deantini’s Paninis. I don’t know if he likes panini, but it rhymes with his name and sounds like a solid lunch option. Deantini’s Paninis will of course be housed in Hamilton Hall, preferably next door to his former office. Of all the dining halls I’ll be proposing in this article, this is probably the only one that will ever actually exist. Can’t you picture this man in the photos on the @columbiadining Instagram, charismatically handing you a Caprese panini?
Maude Latour is probably too busy pursuing pop stardom to come back and run a silly little dining hall, but I’m going to make a case for why she should start a smoothie/juice cafe. Many of her lyrics reference her efforts to stay hydrated (see Clean, Lola), and her song Superfruit mentions her crush being “as good as superfruit” while drinking “orange juice”. The lyrics practically write the dining hall proposal plan for what I’m calling the Superfruit Cafe. Think smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, cut fruit, and lots of water pitchers. This would be a Cafe East-style establishment, allowing students to pay with dining dollars and Flex instead of meal swipes. The Superfruit Cafe would be based in Dodge Hall to hydrate tomorrow’s future musicians. If you need any further proof that we need a Maude Latour x Columbia Dining collab, I will refer you to @columbiadining using Maude in a promotional photo last month on their Instagram.
I know you’re probably thinking: why would former Secretary of State (and current Columbia professor) Hillary Clinton open a dining hall? It’s true that she probably has enough on her plate (no pun intended), but I think that her favorite ingredient, hot sauce, could be a secret weapon for Columbia Dining. Everyone remembers the iconic radio interview where Secretary Clinton mentioned that she always carries hot sauce with her, but her hot sauce fanaticism has been well documented since the 90s when she maintained a collection of over 100 hot sauces at the White House (Time). In addition to starting her role as a professor at SIPA, Secretary Clinton should start a dining hall in the International Affairs Building dedicated to showcasing spicy foods around the world called Spice @ SIPA. This very on-brand dining hall could feature dishes like hot pot, curries, tacos, and more. Of course, cold drinks would be dispensed for those whose palate couldn’t take the heat. Of all my proposed dining halls, this is probably the one I’m most excited about, and the one that is least likely ever to exist.
Chef Mike’s Grandma
In a follow-up to the smash success of Chef Mike’s Sub Shop, Chef Mike’s grandmother (of Chef Mike’s Grandma Special fame) needs her own pop-up dining hall. As the creator of the Grandma Special, I’m certain that this woman has several other delicious Italian sandwiches up her sleeve that the Columbia community needs to try. I would call this pop-up Chef Mike’s Grandma’s Special Subs, and I envision that her dining hall would be placed directly next to Chef Mike’s Uris Hall establishment. I also think these two should face off in a cooking competition once a year to determine which cook is crowned “Best Subs at Columbia”. Yes, maybe it’s unfair to all of the other chefs who deserve their own dining hall to hand the spot to a relative of Chef Mike. But while 2022 was the year of nepotism baby, I want to make 2023 the year of the nepotism nana.
Listen, I respect the student-athlete grind, but it can be a bit much seeing 20 members of the crew team all plop down at the same table at John Jay when you’re just trying to find a measly one seat. To address the unique need of student-athletes (and maybe freshmen in their first month of college) to sit with their closest 20 friends, I think Roaree should open a dining hall targeted to student-athletes. This dining hall would of course be located close to the athletic facilities (but not too close in order to prevent getting athlete’s foot in the pasta). If I’m honest, I don’t really know what would be served or what Roaree would do, but we would provide plentiful fresh fruits, vegetables, and … whatever else physically fit people eat. Protein powder? Selfies with Roaree will probably be one of the primary attractions of this dining hall for people who aren’t seven feet tall or Olympians.
Honorable Mention: Captain Bayonne
I don’t necessarily think that Captain Bayonne needs to open his own dining hall, but I think his skillful footwork could be employed at existing dining halls. Picture this: you’re standing in the grilled cheese line at Ferris, and the dining hall staff is calling out available sandwiches at the front. Except no one is listening. Enter: Captain Bayonne. The captain could pick up the sandwich with his feet and chuck it at the nearest student. This technique could be successfully employed in dining locations ranging from Chef Mike’s Sub Shop to Cafe East. The only caveat: he’d have to be trained not to aim at trash cans.
Header by Elizabeth Walker