Archive for December 2016

Mystery Meat? No Way. It’s Gourmet all the Way at Aquinas Cafes

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Talk to your parents about dorm food. Chances are, they don’t have happy memories.

After all, back in the day, tater tots were a big deal.

They’re still great, but cafeterias have come a long way since then. Don’t believe it? Take a peek at the Aquinas College Dining Services menu any day of the week.

Pork BBQ sliders. Popcorn chicken. Beef and vegetable curry. Specially made deli sandwiches. Pizza from scratch. Pumpkin dessert bar for your all-spice, autumnal goodies.

And, of course, Taco Tuesday.

The food is prepared under the expert eye of Chef Andy Schultz. Known as Chef Andy, he’s determined to end college dining stereotypes of mystery meat.

“I just like to bring in fresh, local ingredients,” he said. “Ninety percent of the ingredients for dishes we provide in the kitchen are from scratch. I can tell a difference, and the students and clients we’re serving can tell the difference.”

You probably don’t want to know, but Chef Andy knows where the turkey lived that’s now in your sandwich (the West Michigan Turkey co-op); who mixed the ranch dressing on your salad (Litehouse in Lowell); and where the oregano grew for Sunday’s spaghetti sauce (Michigan Fine Herbs in Shelbyville).

Nothing against your parents, but we bet they didn’t know where their tater tot grew.

The differences don’t stop at food at Aquinas College and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities. Proudly different, the schools march to their own beat, emphasizing community over crowds and experience over the latest passing whim.

Despite what you may have heard, the private colleges are among the most affordable in the Midwest. That’s because more than 93 percent of students receive financial aid, lowering advertised tuition and bringing actual costs on par with many public universities.

That means education is not only priceless. It’s affordable too — one of many differences with traditional universities.

Unlike big state schools, class sizes are small and taught by incredible faculty who help students forge their own path. They have a deep and committed network of alumni who help after graduation. It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Love “A Christmas Story”? Thank Hillsdale College

Merry Christmas! You’ll shoot your eye out.

You don’t need to own a Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle to know the line is from “A Christmas Story,” the 1983 movie that’s become a staple of the holidays. Played on constant rotation starting Christmas Eve, the movie is so quotable that most know its dialogue by heart.

Fra-GEE-leh! It must be Italian!

I double DOG dare you.

It’s a pink nightmare.

Less well known is the genius behind the classic is one of Hillsdale College’s own, director and co-writer Bob Clark. He attended the Michigan college in the 1960s on a football scholarship and starred in several productions of the Tower Players.

Clark also directed another, less family friendly classic, “Porky’s,” during a career that spanned four decades and began shortly after he left Hillsdale in 1963. He got his start directing zombie flicks and eventually helmed productions including Jack Lemmon, Sylvester Stalone and some of the biggest Hollywood stars.

But he’ll forever be known for “A Christmas Story,” a project he loved so much he forsook his salary.

The inspiration struck when he was on a bad date and listened to a broadcast of writer Jean Shepherd’s recollections about growing up in Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s. He ended up driving around the block until the program was over.

“My date was not happy,” Clark said in an interview.

Clark is one of many creative luminaries who got their start at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. The schools pride themselves on attracting students who do things differently and pairing them with dedicated faculty who help chart their own path.

So it’s probably no surprise the schools’ alums include diverse talent from singer Sufjan Stevens (Hope College) and funnyman Keegan Michael Key (University of Detroit-Mercy) to Martin Scorsese collaborator Paul Schrader (Calvin College) and “Walking Dead” star Steven Yeun (Kalamazoo College.)

All the schools emphasize community over crowds and help students forge their own paths.

It’s an experience that simply doesn’t exist at big state schools.

And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates that big universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.