As president of the University, Robert L. Carothers wears many hats, but on Presidents’ Day this year he donned an entirely new one—a chef’s hat to cook up something special for the students.
“Chef Bob” prepared and served his favorite dish—penne with vegetables and shrimp in a seasoned butter sauce—in the Hope Commons dining hall for two hours during peak lunchtime to a seemingly endless line of students.
Dining Services Director Kathleen Gianquitti and some of her staff cooked up the idea. “We thought having our own president cook for the students on Presidents’ Day was unique,” she said.
The students appreciated the presidential treatment. “It was cool that he wanted to get involved with everyone,” said freshman Nicole Nolin of Pawtucket.
Anice Barbosa, a sophomore originally from Brazil and now of Providence, was impressed. “It was so nice for him to take time out of his busy day to cook for us,” Barbosa said. “He is so friendly.”
Fall River sophomore Sandra Davin agreed. “It was a fun surprise. The president is very personable, and it’s nice to see him in a real-life situation.”
When Justin Schumacher, a freshman from Long Island, tasted what the president had prepared, he smiled and said, “It was dynamite.”
“It helped me feel connected to the students, and giving them something they really enjoyed felt pretty great too,” said Chef Bob. “I think the hardest part is the continuing demand to keep the food coming.”
Gianquitti said: “Our staff was excited to have a chance to work with the president, to talk with him in their environment and to show him the pride they take in serving our students the best possible meals. You could see smiles everywhere.”