Texas Tech University Hospitality Services hosted a Mardi Gras celebration from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Commons by United Supermarkets, located at 3211 18th St.
The lunch and dinner menus differed from the usual dining options as students were offered Cajun cuisine.
Alan Cushman, business development manager for Hospitality Services, said the change in menu items keeps things interesting for students while also exposing them to foods they may not otherwise try.
“Hospitality Services, as part of Texas Tech, we try to bring in some different menu variations and different types of events to kind of break the monotony for Texas Tech students,” he said, “but we also try to take these as an opportunity to kind of focus on different multicultural events.”
Hospitality Services provides different events throughout the semester for those dining on-campus, and Cushman said the next specialty menu will be based off Cinco de Mayo.
“We’re looking to do some other things,” he said. “We have an event planned at the Fresh Plate in Bledsoe/Gordon for Cinco de Mayo, where we’re gonna actually focus on some authentic recipes from like, Central Mexico and things like that, so just kind of a different way to kind of expose students to that, as well.”
Overall, Cushman said the Mardi Gras event fulfills the main goal of his department.
“Hospitality Services, as a department, we’re always trying to be Red Raiders feeding Red Raiders,” he said. “That’s something we pride ourselves in, and events like the Mardi Gras event, is just an excellent example.”
Dewey McMurrey, certified executive chef for Hospitality Services, said planning a themed menu differs from planning an average menu.
“You can stick more to tradition and a theme of the meal,” he said. “You know, being Mardi Gras, there’s all kinds of famous recipes from Louisiana, so you have lots of options and just kind of pick the favorites, try to balance that with your special diets and allergies and things also.”
McMurrey, who is from Houston, said creating the Mardi Gras menu brought back pleasant memories and made him want to create good food to share with the campus community.
“It was fun,” he said. “You just get flooded with old memories of food from down there, you know, which, to me, makes it more exciting, and you want to share your experience more with other people.”
Students seemed to respond well to the diverse menu, McMurrey said, especially since many Tech students are from southern areas.
“Regionally, we have a lot of students from down there and in that area, and this is very comforting to them,” he said. “I feel like they feel a little bit more, like, at-home.”
Food can have a powerful influence on people, something McMurrey said he has noticed while trying out new menus.
“Food is a great comforter and, you know, so much of our satisfaction comes from food,” he said.
Freshman pre-med student Kellen Armour said he enjoyed his meal of crawfish, jambalaya, étouffée and catfish, although he rarely visits The Commons.
“I just come in when they have specialties,” the student from Dallas said.
If anything, Armour said he would like to see a change in drink options while also maintaining specialty menus whenever possible.
“I wish they had a better variety of drinks,” he said. “I wish they had more of what they’re having.”