Executive chef cooks up new menu for freshmen class


Aug. 31, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.

You know executive Chef Dawn Rose is boss just from her clothing.

Wearing her fitted red and black chef's uniform with neatly embroidered University of Houston - Victoria logo and her name, she is often asked if the university is opening a culinary school.

"Today women have the option to look like women in chef coats rather than being swallowed up in coats that used to be designed for men," she said.

Rose, UHV's new director of dining services, comes from a tradition of doing everything from fine dining to mopping floors.

"I get to do every day what I love," she said. "I love every aspect. From peeling onions to putting artwork on a plate."

Rose's love affair with food service began when she worked as a 14-year-old dipping ice cream cones at Dairy Queen, but not until later in life did she decide to return to school to get a formal culinary degree. She graduated from the Art Institute of Dallas when she was nearly 50.

"Just because you reach a certain age doesn't mean you can't reach your goals," she said. "Go back to college, go to work and your dreams are possible."

Her plans for Jaguar Hall dining? Simple, food cooked well.

"We want them to feel at home," she said. "We want to feel like they haven't left home that very far behind."

Rose hopes to begin a program called Recipes from Home where students will submit their own recipes for the staff to cook. The small environment makes projects like it possible.

"That would be really a lot of fun for the students and a lot of fun for us," she said. "It helps us to get to know the students better."

The new dining hall, located inside Jaguar Hall, will seat about 200 people and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays. Brunch and dinner will be served on Sundays.

The dining area will include a hot food line, deli area, cold cereal station and an exhibition station where students can custom order a dish and have it cooked in front of them.

Although Rose hasn't finalized the menus for the first weeks of school there's one dish for sure that will top the list: Jaguar Bites.

"It's got a little bit of heat to it," she said, describing her signature chocolate muffin item. "It's got a little bit of bite to it because it kind of bites back."

The muffins will have a yellow cinnamon swirl to mimic the look of a Jaguar. A chipotle pear chutney will add a spicy flair to the dish.

The Bites will only be served at the hall.

The dining services will also have a catering branch that anyone from the public can hire where the bites will also be served.

Rose hopes to eventually open the dining hall to the public next year, but until now the grandmother of seven plans to focus all of her creative energy on the students.

"It's like having my own 250 kids again," she said.



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