Hey hey, HVC! Hummingbird here, and booooy am I hungry…. I’m flying on over to the Dining Hall to see what’s cooking in our kitchen! Chris and Lillian have been feeding all of us in the Valley for over 30 years, so I have quite a few questions for them about the history of our camp and the best food on earth! Let’s get to know them a little!
How long have you been cooking at HVC? How have you seen camp change over the years?
Lillian’s been cooking at HVC since about ’81 or ’82. I [Chris] joined her when we took on the job as Frye Mountain Food Service, the first year Peter and Meg were at camp, ’88. We were all much younger in the beginning, Peter and Meg were settling in to their new ownership and management roles at the camp, and we were obviously trying to figure out how to do the best job of delivering meals as we could. Over time I think we’ve all smoothed out the rough edges and found the methods that stand the test of time and work well.
You cook three delicious meals a day for 400+ people who all have different dietary restrictions, allergies, and food preferences. How on earth do you accommodate all those differences? Do you have any tricks or rules of thumb when you’re planning a meal?
We make our diet check sheet (check out an example below!) to identify every individual allergen in the food, so that anyone can check the ingredients in each thing served at every meal. A vegetarian entree is provided at all dinners (breakfasts and lunches as well) that is sometimes also vegan. Occasionally there are campers with very special needs and we find a way to take care of them as well.
We take on a number of different building projects, some for ourselves and some for others. And do a little traveling to visit family and friends.
Chris, you’ve been known to play the bagpipes around camp (you’ve even woken campers up on Fair Day with your bagpipes!) When did you start playing, and what inspired you to play?
I became interested in the pipes at a Highland Game Festival in Vermont in 2011. The music was so intriguing to both of us that I came home and found a local band to join and learn to play!
Lilian, do you have any hidden talents that campers may not know about?
In my younger days I played a lot of tennis, and in the last eight years or so I’ve taken up golf. I also love hiking!
Chris, you are widely known– even famous– around camp for everyone’s favorite breakfast, EGG BAR! What is it REALLY like to be behind the bar and make eggs for every single camper, counselor, AWAC and prostaffer on camp?
Actually, working the egg bar is the most rewarding part of the camp food service for me! I get to meet all the campers and staff each morning and get to know and interact with each of them. I’ve made many lasting friends over the years at the egg bar. It’s a chance to feel the heartbeat of the camp.
Campers and counselors debate the best camp meals… Which do you think is the ULTIMATE favorite camp meal you make?
The favorites have evolved over the years. Once it was Chili and cornbread, then it was Lasagne and garlic bread, Chicken Ah-so, Pizza’s always been a favorite, kids love pasta, brie pasta, spaghetti, mac and cheese. The Sunday dinners have been popular; Turkey, Roast Beef, Indian or Asian. Lately we are told that the Mexican meal is their favorite. And everyone loves the salad bar! As for weddings and gatherings beyond camp, one of the most requested dishes is Spanakopita. Lillian says Mexican is her favorite because she can make it have some heat. My favorites come off the grill; ribs, chicken, steak, pork tenderloin.
What kinds of kitchen appliances do you have in the dining hall that campers might not find in their own home kitchens? What do you use them for?
We have a steamer that we use for a lot of things; vegetables, rice, scrambled eggs, plus re-heating leftovers. We also have the huge steam kettle that we use mostly for cooking pastas, corn on the cob, and anything else we need to boil in a large volume. After some exhausting days I’ll heat up the water for Lillian to take a soak. We also have a potato peeler that can peel a 50# sack in a matter of minutes. Most of the rest of the appliances are common to households, though on a much larger scale.
Finally, please settle a long-standing camp debate for us… does the dragon in the dining hall come alive at night and eat the leftovers?
There is no question that the dragon comes to life on some nights especially after Junk Food Day!
Thanks so much for your yummy food, Chris and Lillian! I’m gonna go eat some leftover donuts before the dragon gets them!!
Humm and yumm!!