UI chefs prepare Irish meal today


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Feeding more than 500 people a three-course meal is a monthly occurrence for the IMU chefs.

What may seem like an impossible task for many is not so difficult for the chefs, who have an assembly line and an organized staff.

For more than 10 years, usually on the third Thursday of the month, the IMU chefs have picked a different food theme to bring to the taste buds of the Iowa City community. The event is called Lunch with the Chefs.

Whether faculty, students, or members of the community, more than 500 people come out for the delicious food each time the IMU hosts Lunch with the Chefs.

Chef Gunner Grulke, one of the two main chefs for today’s event, is a 1992 graduate of the University of Iowa; he has been cooking at the IMU since 2007.

“It’s nice to feel appreciated and to provide a unique dining experience to the people on campus,” he said. “But I’m glad it’s only once a month.”

Grulke, along with chef John Moloney, will prepare a Luck O’ the Irish meal for the community at 11:15 a.m. today in the IMU Main Lounge. Admission is $7 for students, $8 for faculty and the general public.

What sets this meal apart from a typical St. Patrick’s Day feast is that there will not be any corned beef. Instead, it will be a more traditional meal. When Grulke talked to some friends from Ireland, he learned that corned beef is an American tradition and that normally, the Irish eat different types of stews. Because of this, the Luck O’ the Irish meal will serve an Irish pub salad, a hearty Irish stew over red mashed potatoes, Irish soda bread, and for dessert, St. Patrick’s Day Cake. Grulke collaborated with the bakery staff on the best cake recipe that could be produced for the masses.

Dan Hahn, one of the fairly new bakers on staff, has participated in the Lunch with the Chefs for around one year now. He helped bake the St. Patrick’s Day cake, which is a chocolate cake with a Guinness beer reduction and an icing that contains Myer’s rum.

“You will for sure know that there is alcohol in it once it is served at room temperature,” he said.

Aside from the desserts, a week of preparation goes into the other courses.

Today, UI senior Ellen Fennell will help prepare the salads. In an assembly line, the staff members prepare 60 salads at a time until they reach around 550.

“It is a fun experience, and a lot more people show up than I expect,” Fennell said. “I like how they decorate, play music, and have food of the culture they are going for.”

Even though Grulke enjoys bringing traditional foods to the event, his favorite part is being able to experiment with the food and cooking process.

“The satisfaction on the customers’ faces as they pile fork load after fork load into their mouth is kind of nice,” he said. “You can see the fruits of your labor.”

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