by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — If you are up on College Hill walking around the green at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, you can’t miss Dewey Hall located on the western side of campus. But it isn’t just another classroom building. Sometimes delicious aromas waft out into the neighborhood on a late summer’s breeze.
Dewey is an important New England Culinary Institute learning lab that is open to the public throughout the week. In addition, they can be called on for catering affairs. In charge of teaching and cooking is Chef Martha Franklin, said Philip Stevens in a telephone interview with The Bridge. “She very much runs that operation with the help of Nancy Badger,” Stevens added.
And although it looks like a fairly typical cafeteria on the outside, with shining chrome service units where the food is served on standard trays, there is more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. All the meat production for the rest of New England Culinary Institute’s operations is handled in the Dewey facility.
“We make our own sausage. We get whole split pigs from Black River Produce,” Stevens said. He then went on to describe how students learn to butcher the sides of pork. Students learn the proper way to cut up meat and then what to do with the parts. They learn what to grind up and put in sausage. They also learn how to take a whole salmon, clean it, and smoke it. Ducks and chickens are also processed at Dewey.
And as for the rest of the food, it is all cooked from scratch. Students who work in Dewey serve food to other New England Culinary Institute students as well as students attending residency programs for the Vermont College of Fine Arts. In addition, they are called on to cater the frequent functions put on by the State of Vermont at the spacious presentation areas on campus. “It is not uncommon for them to come to Dewey. Or we bring it to them,” Stevens said.
Working in Dewey’s kitchen is one of the first steps toward the certificate and degree programs at New England Culinary Institute . New England Culinary Institute students work on obtaining certificates in professional cooking or associates and bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts.
Because our offices at The Bridge are a stone’s throw from Dewey Hall, we sometimes have lunch there. Various and interesting cuisines are served, such as Southern, Tex-Mex, Asian and vegetarian. We go for the soups and salads, but always try a little bit of everything.
The cafeteria is open for breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., lunch from 11:15 to 1 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m.. Hours sometimes change, so it is a good idea to call ahead. A reservation is required for groups of more than 10.