Ladd hosts gourmet restaurant
The soft glow of candlelight, a rustle of linen napkins,
the reassuring smile of a maitred' that says "you're in good hands"-am
I in Portland, or Boston maybe? No, my friends, in fact I have not even
set foot off the Bowdoin campus. Impossible, you say? A year ago it probably
would have been, but thanks to the efforts of senior Simon Gerson and
a devoted team of volunteers, Ladd House's dining room will be transformed
into a gourmet restaurant every Tuesday this semester.
While the restaurant, titled "Your Restaurant,"
was introduced just this January, the concept was being developed all
last semester. Gerson, who interned last summer at a four star French
restaurant in New York City, said that the idea struck him when he toured
the renovated Ladd House in the early fall.
"I saw the commercial kitchen and realized that there
was a lot of potential," he said. After receiving the green light
to open a student-run restaurant from Residential Life, the logistics
had to be sorted out.
"We actually lose money in the process," Gerson
admitted, but he noted that the purpose of the endeavor is not to maximize
profit. "Our restaurant is funded by the Mellon foundation, board
transfer, and a $5 fee, in addition to the gratuities of our generous
patrons," he explained.
Each week, Gerson buys the groceries for the evening's meal
and begins preparing food at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. "It really is
an all day process," Gerson said, "I get a break with class
in the afternoon, but that's it." While Gerson focuses on the culinary
aspects of Your Restaurant, the actual management of the restaurant is
in the hands of Jason Pietrafitta '02. Pietrafitta, who shies away from
the label of "manager," prefers to think of himself as a "team
leader" and lists among his duties scheduling reservations, seating
guests, and managing financial assets.
As dinnertime rolls around, waiters, assistant cooks, and
dishwashers kick into action. They set tables, make hors d'ourves, and
make other such preparations to ensure that the 45-50 guests they will
receive for the evening have a pleasant experience. Josh Jones '04 noted
that "it can get pretty hectic around here," but overall he
enjoys being a part of Your Restaurant. Jones, who specializes in preparing
mussels with roasted garlic, finds the positive feedback of diners to
be particularly rewarding. "I've gotten a lot of compliments on my
mussels," he observed, "especially from the ladies."
Waiter Patrick Woodcock '04 also extolled the virtues of
Your Restaurant, but humbly admitted he would not have been a part of
it if had he not received such excellent training from BoBo's, an upscale
Chinese restaurant in Bangor. "Waiting here has been a great experience-I
see it really as more of a lifestyle and mindset than simply an
The menu, which does not rotate, features a selection of
appetizers including a warm root vegetable salad with balsamic vinaigrette
and house cured salmon, and entrees such as maple steak au poivre, portabella
mushroom with red wine and thyme, and salmon with fried capers and grapefruit
burre blanc. Dinner also includes a choice of beverage, bread, dessert,
and coffee or tea.
As for next year, the fate of Your Restaurant is uncertain.
Gerson, who plans to work at a restaurant in Colorado, hopes to pass the
torch on to another passionate chef: "I would love it if someone
could continue this, but we'll see what happens."
Your Restaurant, which is open to students and faculty, is open from 5:30-7:30 on Tuesdays. For reservations, please e-mail Jason Pietrafitta at firstname.lastname@example.org.