On a recent Thursday, several dining employees were rolling scoops of ice cream into powdered chocolate until the ice cream took on the shape of fat brown sausages. The group was learning how to make the legendary Bowdoin Log – that beloved dessert of dense 14% butterfat ice cream covered with crushed chocolate wafers, hot fudge and toasted almonds.
Bowdoin Head Baker Joanne Adams, who was teaching the dessert-making class with baker Dan Williams, said she never tires of making the logs, despite having to scoop and roll 10,000 to 12,000 a year. “They’re so well-received,” she said. “We never get complaints.” Although the log-rolling lesson she was giving her colleagues on this day was mostly “for fun,” the hundreds of logs they were making – minus the few they ate – would be stored for later functions.
The Bowdoin Log cooking class was just one of many sessions offered to dining services staff Jan. 3 and 4 as part of the department’s annual staff education program. This is the 25th year Dining Services has taken advantage of downtime in January to develop staff knowledge and skills relating to foods and cuisine, customer service, wellness and on-campus and community resources. Dining Services Director Mary Lou Kennedy initiated the tradition in 1988, shortly after arriving at Bowdoin.
The theme this year was mind, body and spirit. “Everyone gets to learn something that has to do with our business – we’re in the health and wellness field,” Kennedy said.
This year, employees were able to choose among many classes, including acupuncture, reiki, laughter yoga, medicinal spices, defibrillator training, Mexican cooking, aroma therapy, Tai Chi and others. They also had the option to volunteer one morning at a local nonprofit, to go for a winter walk, or to play ping pong and cribbage. All 90 or so employees were also treated to lunch at one of six local restaurants on Friday afternoon.
A committee of dining employees met throughout the fall to choose the classes and activities and to book the experts, Kennedy explained.
Executive Chef Ken Cardone said he thinks most Dining Services staff look forward to the novelty of the in-service training days. “It’s a great opportunity to see what others [in Dining] do, try different things and learn new skills.”