Cooking with Confidence

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Weir serves up lunch for Rodney Saunders ’13 and Stephanie Pineda ’14.

Guest Chef Joanne Weir creates small plates for Commons palates.
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By Cathryn Westra

From serving award – winning ethnic-themed meals to hosting celebrity chefs, Davidson’s Vail Commons is a cutting-edge college dining hall.

Television personality and cookbook author Joanne Weir collaborated with Commons’ chefs recently to whip up Mediterranean recipes featured in her books From Tapas to Meze: Small Plates from the Mediterranean and Wine Country Cooking.

“I was delightfully surprised by how creative and open-minded Davidson chefs are,” said Weir. “There’s so much variety —vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free,―and all with fresh, delicious options.”

Weir is a traveling chef with recipes inspired by places she visits. She’s written 17 cookbooks, including Weir Cooking in the City, which won the James Beard Foundation’s 2005 Best Cookbook award and was accompanied by a PBS television series of the same title. Her current TV series, “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence,” airs nationwide. Executive Chef Craig Mombert met Weir at a conference last June. “I was impressed by the meals Joanne served and how professional and personable she is. I figured she’d be great to have on campus to educate students about food,” he said.

Mombert also helped organize a Maslenitsa celebration lunch proposed by a Russian professor, and had a Caribbean and West Indies dinner to highlight the talents of guest chef and Armfield Professor of English Brenda Flanagan.

“Commons events are fun for our staff and students,” said Mombert. “We want those who dine here to enjoy their experience and to know we take pride in what’s served.”

Students aren’t alone in relishing the fine fare. “Friends and I first came to Commons because our wives recommended it,” said John Kimbirl ’59 of Davidson. “It was delicious, so now we come more often.”

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