c/o Jonas Powell, Photo Editor

c/o Jonas Powell, Photo Editor

The past two years have certainly been tumultuous for the Star and Crescent Eating Club (S&C). After two different head chefs, a year of takeout-only service, and a rocky start to the spring semester, things are starting to look up. Last week, I sat down with Hannah Goodwin-Pierce ’22 to discuss her three years working at S&C and the prospective opportunity to work as the head chef for the eating club after she graduates from the University this spring. 

Goodwin-Pierce started working as a server at S&C in Fall 2019, back when campus was maskless and COVID-19 was unknown. The head chef at the time was Ryan Talbot, a S&C veteran who had worked at the eating club since the early 2000s. When COVID-19 struck in Spring 2020, Goodwin-Pierce was sent home along with the rest of the University, and upon returning to her job, there was no more indoor dining. Nonetheless, there was still a full staff at S&C and Goodwin-Pierce was able to work preparation and plating shifts.

In August 2021, a week before classes began for the academic year, the long-tenured Talbot notified the staff members of his decision to leave S&C.

“He was getting burned out from making so much food in such large quantities, because we were honestly asking a lot of him,” Goodwin-Pierce said.

S&C Stewards Sophie Penn ’23 and Adam Pepper-Macias ’25, who handle the financial and logistical aspects of the eating club, had to try and find a new chef at the start of the fall semester.

They eventually settled on executive chef Clayton Chartier, who has been a chef for 20 years and worked at a variety of restaurants around Connecticut. However, due to the eating club’s policy that does not allow a new chef to sign the necessary paperwork and start working until the start of a new semester, S&C couldn’t return to service until the spring semester.

Unfortunately, Chartier struggled at the beginning of the spring semester to meet the expectations of the S&C team, and was ultimately fired a month into the semester. According to Penn, Chartier was not very receptive to advice and criticism from other S&C workers, and the food quality was not up to par. The eating club also faced issues with producing enough quantity of food, as Chartrier was not making use of the resources provided to him, including student staff and purveyors.

In the midst of this, Goodwin-Pierce continued to learn about more chef and leader-esque responsibilities, even though she was only working a few prep and plating shifts. A few weeks after Chartier was fired, Goodwin-Pierce initiated a conversation with Penn about her desire to be hired as the eating club’s new chef starting in Fall 2022.

“I’ve worked here since I was 18…[and] I am really dedicated to this place,” Goodwin-Pierce said. “I have seen it go through so many changes, I feel like I know what works, I know what students like to eat, I’ve watched the numbers and the meals that do function well. I feel very equipped in this specific kitchen, with people like Sophie [Penn] who I have known for so long and can be in open communication with, while learning new skills and feeling comfortable on this campus.”

In the past, Goodwin-Pierce has worked multiple catering jobs, as well as a stint at an Italian restaurant. While she picked up many skills through these experiences, there has still been a learning curve at S&C. 

“The hardest part of S&C is working with purveyors, getting the groceries, and making it cost and time efficient,”  Goodwin-Pierce said. “The biggest learning curve for me is being able to work with farmers and grocers, especially since the whole food delivery system has gotten messed up during COVID-19, as well as dealing with budgeting and figuring out delivery dates.” 

Penn acknowledged that Goodwin-Pierce has done great work with S&C so far and is looking forward to bringing in more student opinions on the inner workings of the S&C kitchen.

“It’s been a tumultuous year for the S&C, but Adam [Pepper-Macias] and I have been so grateful to have experienced staff members like Hannah working with us,” Penn wrote in a message to The Argus. “Hopefully, if all goes well, we’ll be able to continue working with Hannah next year as well. In general, we’re looking forward to having a lot more student input in the kitchen than we’ve had in the past.”

Even though Goodwin-Pierce hasn’t signed any paperwork yet, she has taken on a larger leadership role in the kitchen this semester. While S&C cannot start operating again until next fall, as they do not currently have a chef, Alpha Delta Phi (ADP) agreed to sponsor a few events in the kitchen this spring.

“We…were talking about ways in which we could use the kitchen as an ADP kitchen, so that students would have time to run a small, more low-key operation without having a chef for the rest of the semester,” Goodwin-Pierce said. “That [way] we could still keep our jobs, be making some money, and have the reputation of the restaurant, not go into the toilet.”

Goodwin-Pierce has already helped organize events using the S&C kitchen. The first was a staff-only get-together with breakfast sandwiches held on Friday, March 4. I got the chance to see the preparation process for this event and was impressed by the intricacy of the sandwiches (composed of fried eggs, bacon or sweet potatoes, pickled vegetables, house-made sauce, and biscuits), as well as the dedication to detail. 

Following this event, other staff members expressed interest in holding other events. A limited seating event took place on Thursday, March 24 for students on campus. It went very well, selling out an exciting menu of a pesto pasta dish, tempura-fried mushrooms and a lemon tart. 

Overall, Goodwin-Pierce was excited to be using the S&C kitchen again and believes that there can be more events this semester, which will help all of the staff get more comfortable in the kitchen.

“It was great to see the kitchen back and running again, fully functional and being operated by students,” Goodwin-Pierce said. 

Goodwin-Pierce’s excitement about and love for cooking is clear, and she specifically noted her commitment to making exciting vegan and vegetarian dishes for the University’s community, as well as a desire to work with local farmers. 

Goodwin-Pierce sent me a long list of possible recipes for the future, but focused on a few specific favorites, like a vegan lasagna and a matzo ball soup with crispy shallots. She loves cooking Jewish food, but wants to explore a range of cuisines, including different kinds of pickled vegetables like Korean kimchi.

“The role of S&C to me is filling a niche in cuisine that is not represented anywhere on campus,” Goodwin-Pierce said. “I think S&C really gives people the feeling of a home cooked meal.”


Lewis Woloch can be reached at lwoloch@wesleyan.edu.

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