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Channel Surfing is secret treat

Walsh offers weekly themed cuisine based off TV shows

Published: Monday, January 31, 2005

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Lisa Cook

The staff of Channel Surfing (in the Walsh dining hall) poses in front of the decorations for the MTV themed dinner they are about to serve.

Carney's is crowded, Stuart is serving chicken pot pie for the third day in a row, and you have already dined at Hillside Café today. When you are feeling tired of the bland dinner menu, you have another option - simply change the channel. An all-you-can-eat gourmet meal awaits you on lower campus.

Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of second semester, the banquet hall in the Walsh dormitory hosts a program called Channel Surfing for all famished Boston College students. Each week the meal is catered to a particular theme based on a television channel, such as Disney or VH1.

The room is decorated with color-coordinated linens and balloons, and the smoothie bar to the left completes the restaurant ambience. The main event - a buffet table heaped with restaurant-quality cuisine - is located front and center. You begin the buffet with an array of rolls: wheat, sun-dried tomato, and even regular Italian. Then stroll past the fresh fruit and vegetable salads. You pass some sides, including mashed potatoes, green beans, and creamy soups. Soon you arrive at the plethora of entrée choices. In the mood for orange-glazed chicken? Done. A fillet of sole more to your taste? That's available as well. More of a rack-of-ribs kind of guy? They've got that too.

Venture a little further and you will find a round table stacked with desserts: apple cobbler, cream puffs, fresh Boston crème pie, vanilla ice cream, and flavored coffees.

The best part is that all this is available to you for just $21.95 off of your BC meal plan.

Channel Surfing is a program developed by the managers of Boston College dining halls, and it has been going strong for six years. Inspired by the short attention span of today's student who constantly changes channels in an attempt to find something to suit his or her taste, the dining services team decided to offer a new comprehensive meal nearly every week.

The restaurant-quality cooking is prepared right in Walsh Hall by a team of professional culinary experts, and an excellent staff works tirelessly to make sure every detail of the night is done right.

David Mangan, catering manager, delineates all the tasks that must be done: "decorations must match, the room set design must be planned, colors have to coordinate, the menu has to be drawn up, and the staff needs to be organized."

Even the creation of the "mocktails" - non-alcoholic exotic smoothies that are served in towering take-home glasses - takes effort.

And the Channel Surfing staff does not spare any aspect of the meal. The menus are extensive, creative, and mouth-watering every time.

This past week the featured channel was MTV, and students munched happily on Bob Marley barley soup, Black Eyed Peas salad, Nickelback ribs, J. Lo chicken, a melody of vegetables, Limp Bizkits and garlic Smash Mouth potatoes, while listening to music videos playing on a TV in the background. Then they moved on to dessert and ate Puff Daddy cream puffs and Fiona Apple tarte.

"I come here whenever I can get a bunch of people together," says Lou Pulice, A&S '08, with a smile. "The food is awesome ... it beats eating dining hall food!"

For many students, the dining experience is worth the trek over to Walsh Hall. A popular activity is to round up a large group of friends and make the trip together.

Besides getting a great meal, parties of seven people or more are photographed and placed on the "Wall of Fame" where they will remain for years to come.

"The student turnout is very good. Usually we have 100 - 150 students per night. Year after year we are back by popular demand," says Mangan.

Students will not be disappointed this semester, as a vast assortment of appetizing channels is planned for the upcoming months. The romance channel will make its appearance in mid-February, followed shortly by the presidents. The Travel Channel will showcase Greece this March.

For those of you reading this article with fervor, your mouth-watering even though you just had lunch, you only have to wait until dinner to experience this event for yourselves. This week - Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 - Walsh Hall gets a little juvenile with the Cartoon Network. Students embrace their grade school selves to dine on the creative dishes of Channel Surfing rather than return to the dining halls. These dishes include Looney Toon tortellini soup, Brontosaurus stir-fry beef, Porky Pig's porkloin, Bugs Bunny roasted carrots, Tasmanian devil's food cake, and Bullwinkle and Rocky road brownies. The BC dining services website offers an online version of the complete menu.

Walk-ins are more than welcome, but large parties are encouraged to make reservations. Details about contacting the Channel Surfing staff are also located on the website.

"Even though I live on Newton, a Channel Surfing meal is worth the bus rides," says Jennifer Ferreris, A&S '08. "My favorite channel has been the Travel Channel New England, but every one is so creative and delicious. I even won a t-shirt in a raffle last week."

So stay tuned to this alternative dinning program at Boston College, because the only way to ensure that it continues for many years to come is to frequent the banquet hall in Walsh.

As David Mangan puts its, Channel Surfing at Walsh Hall is our own "restaurant on campus."

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