The Hippo


Feb 27, 2020








Orange glazed Christmas duck from last year’s Christmas dinner. Stefan Ryll photo.

Classical French Christmas dinner

When: Thursday, Dec. 3, doors open at 5 p.m., service at 6 p.m.
Where: The Quill Restaurant, Hospitality Center, SNHU Campus 2500 N. River Road, Manchester
Cost: $35
Call: 629-4608

Classical dining
SNHU students present French Christmas dinner

By Allie Ginwala

Witness the results of a culinary education firsthand at The Quill Restaurant’s annual classical French Christmas dinner on Thursday, Dec. 3, a special meal presented by Southern New Hampshire University culinary and hospitality students.

“It’s the final exam,” Associate Professor Stefan Ryll said of the holiday meal that presents classical French dishes with a holiday twist.
“You can actually sit down, have your dinner and watch the show and see the students rushing around, so it’s really entertaining as well,” he said. “You really get a full experience. Definitely a lot more interaction than in a normal restaurant.”
The Quill, a full-service restaurant run by the students, is staffed and managed by sophomores to seniors in both the front and back of the house. Gerald Martel, currently working toward his B.S. in culinary management, participated in the classical French Christmas dinner for the first time last year as a junior and is excited to serve in more of a managerial capacity this year. 
“I was really scared and nervous because I’ve never done anything like that before, [but] it hit me how much I loved culinary and how much I want to do it,” he said in a phone interview. “Now I have a lot more confidence this year.”
After cutting beets, working with poached pears and plating the duck last year, Martel wants to improve upon his efficiency this year.
“I have my head on my shoulders this year and I’ve been taking Professor Ryll’s styling class, so I’ve learned a lot of great [skills] from him,” he said.
The five-course menu includes an appetizer platter and choice of salad, soup, entree and one of about 10 desserts, plus mixed drinks prepared by the mixology students especially for the Christmas theme.
Each item on the menu allows the students to focus on a certain skill set — like roasting technique for the orange-glazed Christmas duck with maple-roasted butternut squash and duchesse potatoes.
“[They] stuff the duck with apples and oranges so they get nice and moist, but have to make sure the duck gets crispy,” Ryll said. “They have to get the technique of sauteing correctly. Also working on certain knife cuts.”
For pastry students, this dinner is an exercise in ingenuity as they’re tasked to create their own dish that fits the Christmas theme.
“They have to create and make sure all desserts have a focal point, a garnish and sauce and also [we] encourage contrast like hot and cold or crunchy and soft,” Ryll said.
The students are also responsible for ordering the necessary ingredients, checking the reservations and plotting out the time needed to prepare each dish. 
“The day of the dinner they usually come in around 12:30 p.m. because they have a lot to prep and six hours’ time to get ready,” Ryll said, noting that guests can look at a show plate for each of the desserts and savory dishes to decide which ones they’d like to order.
Though it’s student-run, The Quill is not a test kitchen or cafeteria. Most of the students are well-trained, Ryll said, given that The Quill regularly offers dinner on Thursdays (covering cuisine from northern Europe to the Middle East) and lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays (they featured regional Italian cuisine this semester, but in the spring it will be American regional cuisine from the Northeast to Hawaii).
“We are definitely not that kind of [cafeteria-style] student-run restaurant,” Ryll said.
“This dinner incorporates everyone, like a real kitchen,” Martel said. “So I don’t feel like I’m a student. [It’s] just one big team putting everything together.”

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