Pumpkin Fest at the Grotto


Eva Philips, Staff writer

Autumn is in full swing here at Mercyhurst — from the falling leaves to the cold, blustery weather, that much is obvious. On Nov. 8, the Grotto Commons hosted Pumpkin Fest, a themed lunch celebrating the season of autumn and one of the greatest fall foods — pumpkin.

At Grotto Commons, celebrating fall has become a yearly tradition. This year is no exception with Pumpkin Fest coming at a busy and stressful time in the semester, offering an opportunity for students and faculty to look forward to the celebration of fall with delicious foods. Offerings at Pumpkin Fest included pumpkin cider, pumpkin strudel bread, cheese ravioli with smoky pumpkin crème and pumpkin hash.

The pumpkin-based foods provided a truly delicious taste of fall. Most of the pumpkin dishes were located on the lower level of the Grotto, displayed on several tables decorated with pumpkins and fall-themed decor. The centerpiece of the display was a chef station, where Mercyhurst alum and Grotto Commons supervisor Kevin Schermerhorn prepared the pumpkin hash fresh. This is not the first themed event at the Grotto. Earlier this year, Grotto Commons celebrated Apple Fest with a variety of apple-based dishes, including apple cider, apple desserts and entrées flavored with apples.

Just a few weeks ago was the Halloween feast, where ‘spooky’ foods and desserts were in abundance. These events are coordinated by the manager of Grotto Operations, Jessica Hicks and Chef Art Catrow.

They involve a significant amount of planning and preparation. “To coordinate events in the dining hall, myself and Chef Art Catrow meet and discuss all the details.

Menu planning, decoration, set-up and marketing are some of the main items we discuss,” Hicks said.

Their hard work consistently pays off. Hicks noted that these themed events often bring more people into the Grotto Commons to eat. The student response to special dining events tends to be quite positive, — students often give positive feedback about the offerings at these events.

There was quite a turnout at Pumpkin Fest too, and one of the most popular foods featured was the delicious pumpkin strudel bread, which was topped with cream cheese frosting. Pumpkin Fest certainly is not the last dining event of the year.

There are more events scheduled for the coming weeks. Thanksgiving Dinner at Grotto Commons will take place on Nov. 21, and there will be a Christmas Meal on Dec. 3rd as well as the celebration of National Hot Chocolate Day on Dec. 12, the perfect opportunity to relieve the stress of finals week! Looking ahead, expect dining events in the spring semester as well, including the second annual Eating America event on April 30.