Celebrity chef Damaris Hall center spiced up Dartmouth College dining recently
Celebrity chef Damaris Hall (center) spiced up Dartmouth College dining recently.

Dartmouth Hosts Celebrity Chefs

Grace Young and Damaris Hall dish up stir fry and African delicacies to students.

Dartmouth College Dining Services (DDS) recently hosted a pair of culinary stars as James Beard Award winner Grace Young returned to Dartmouth on the evening of October 9 to assist students with the do-it-yourself stir fry station in the Class of 1953 Commons. Meanwhile, Damaris Hall, chef-owner of Taste of Africa, joined DDS staff for a week to bring authentic Ethiopean wot (stew) to students visiting the Class of 1953 Commons.

“I have devoted much of my career to demystifying the art of stir-frying and celebrating the traditions of wok cookery,” says the world-renowned chef and cookbook author. “I was very much looking forward to bringing my craft to students in New Hampshire.”

The ‘53 Commons added a do-it-yourself stir fry station during summer term and expanded the program to include dinners during the fall. Young spent a week last April as the DDS Guest Chef in Residence, working with several students and DDS employees to teach that art. She says she enjoyed returning to Dartmouth this fall to work with a wider variety of students in a more informal setting.

Dartmouth Wok stationDDS also is producing an instructional stir fry video starring Young to help students who were unable to attend.

Young’s visit is part of a wider DDS initiative to bring in guest chefs to educate both its staff staff and students.

Hall cooked both meat-based and vegan dishes in the World View station, one of eight distinct concepts in the new all you care to eat facility. World View focuses on a cuisine from a different culture each week.  

“We try to enhance the Dartmouth education by broadening students’ cultural experiences,” says DDS Director David Newlove.  

Hall got her formal culinary training in Kenya.  She says that once she learned to cook, applying the methods to foods from different cultures was easy. (For more on Hall, see p. 39.)

“Most of what I was taught was European cuisine, because that is where the tourists came from.  No one was interested in African food then.”  

A Vermont resident for 25 years, Hall emigrated from Kenya after she met her future husband and business partner, Melvin, while he was studying abroad as a Dartmouth student.  The two now offer catering and retail products throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

“We were very excited to host Damaris as part of our visiting chef program,” Newlove says.  “We are looking forward to bringing in more regional and national chefs to not only offer our students something new, but also to help our staff grow professionally.  Our repertoire is always increasing.”