McClurg Q&As: Chef Rick Wright

by Annie Adams

In an attempt to shed some light on the mysterious operations of McClurg Dining Hall, the Purple is beginning regular profiles on those brave men and women who work to bring us our three (or five or seven) favorite meals a day. Whether you’re a daily pizza-eater, vegan line veteran, or panini pro, knowing the faces smiling behind the lines will make your meal all that more special. So read on, and strike up a conversation next time you’re standing in line for an omelet. You may find the result to be egg-ceptional.

Here, the man behind the “What’s for Lunch?” emails offers up answers to some queries ranging from Harry Potter preferences to his McClurg pet peeve. Beginning his fourth year leading the McClurg staff at Sewanee, Chef Rick Wright is laying it all out on the table. “I really love what I do every day. I always want students to remember that eating well is the foundation for being well,” Wright says.

Q. How many years have you been working with dining at Sewanee?
A. This is my fourth year.

Q. What is your culinary background?
A. I learned the basics of cooking from my grandmothers and mother, some 40 years ago. Since then, I have apprenticed with many great chefs. I was trained classically and came up through the Escoffier brigade system, which essentially means working for a period of time in each station in a large kitchen. I have worked for about 40 years now in retail and institutional food service and have been an Executive Chef for about 15 years.

Q. Hometown?
A. Prestonsburg, KY.

Q. Favorite McClurg Line?
A. Vegan

Q. Favorite McClurg Dish?
A. There are so many… Chicken Fried Tofu is one of my favorites right now.

Q. McClurg Pet Peeve (something students do)?
A. Wasting food

Q. Favorite movie?
A. Bladerunner

Q. Hobbies?
A. Cooking, Kayaking, Camping, Reading

Q. Who is your biggest inspiration?
A. Thomas Keller, Mollie Katzen , Anna Lappé, Wendell Berry

Q. Favorite band or musical artist?
A. Pink Floyd

Q. What do you think of the McClurg/ Hogwarts Dining hall comparison?
A. Sometimes when the fog is just right and the Order of Gownsmen are out and about… it is eerie.

Q. If you were in a house at Hogwarts which one would you be, and why?
A. Gryffindor House, because they are the best house, and I like Nearly Headless Nick.

Q. What would students be surprised to hear about McClurg?
A. Probably that the awesome staff in the McClurg and the kitchen have a sincere desire to providethe best food experience possible to you, the student community.