Take a walk down N. Manning Street.
Start at Central Hall, pass the parking lots, stop to listen to The Wineboxes performing by College Baptist. Cross the street, gather at the beer tent for a cup of Coors. Then slalom from house to house: taste the mac ‘n’ cheese, grab a waffle, and don’t forget the chili.
At Taste of Manning, the first Student Activities Board event of its kind, hundreds of students wandered up and down North Manning Street on Saturday afternoon, snacking on dishes prepared by their peers.
At the end of the street, a gaggle of friends steps up to The Stables, where seniors Ralston Tucker, Grace Vandegriff, and Michelle Bara hover by a crockpot of Kevin’s Famous Chili.
Unlike the actual Kevin, the character from “The Office” who spilled his famous chili all over the carpet, students who wander into The Stables have a good chance of getting a bite. To reassure them, there’s a meme on the back wall with Kevin’s smug face behind the announcement: “I FINALLY DIDN’T SPILL MY FAMOUS CHILI.” And by the housemates, string lights frame a blackboard with a message in red chalk: “Chili: It’s probably the thing we do best.”
Coming inside to escape the 40-degree cold, students sample bowls of chili with squares of cornbread. The housemates said over the course of the two-hour event, the chili ran out, and they had to make more.
“It was really fun to make everything,” Tucker says, as the newest visitors reach for the ladle.
Director of Student Activities Ashlyn Landherr, heading up the street, says she’s happy with student turnout despite the chilly weather. About 150 students signed up to attend, but she guesses some 200 – 300 actually showed up.
After students came up with the idea for the event in an SAB brainstorming session, it became Taste of Manning, named after the world’s largest food festival, Taste of Chicago. The next step was blocking off the street itself.
“Getting the street cleared was huge,” Landherr says, “but it made this event possible.”
Students in 10 off-campus houses shared their culinary skills, serving snacks from sweet to savory: banana bread, meatballs, brownies, tacos, BBQ, prosciutto.
The Fratican, at the end of the street, got the most students votes for taste, thanks to its steak slices with garlic aioli. The Stables snagged the award for best vibe.
Standing by a group of guys playing cornhole, Associate Dean of Men Chief Rogers says he came out to support an event that was all in good fun.
“It’s wholesome and good,” Rogers says. “And it’s around friendship.”
When the bustle has subsided and even the beer tent has cleared, seniors Gina Hawersaat and Stacey Egger languish on their couch after dishing out almost every portion of mac ‘n’ cheese in Graceland. Hawersaat says they started cooking three hours before the event.
“We probably had 12 pounds of cheese,” Egger says.
Both agree that they enjoyed meeting students from every corner of campus, and Hawersaat adds that she hope that this isn’t the only taste of Manning Hillsdale students will get.
“I think they should do it every year,” she says. “Manning is such a hub of student life right now.”
She only has one suggestion.
“Do you think SAB would clean our house for us?” she asks. “Just the kitchen. There’s cheese on everything.”