With an annual volume of approximately 64,000 meals served each academic year, the Ivy Club’s kitchen is a source of great Club activity. The staff team of five prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner each day for Ivy’s 120 to180 members, a number that fluctuates with the spring inclusion of sophomores. Despite this substantial volume, food at Ivy continues to receive rave reviews and is considered one of the best places to eat on the Street.

The strength of Ivy’s meal offerings is due in great part to the culinary skills and management of Executive Chef Paul Chiara. A native of Medford, New Jersey, Paul grew up feasting on original creations of Italian fare. He attributes his passion for cooking to the inspiring homemade cuisines made by his mother and grandfather. The breadth of his pallet and ability to eloquently combine different ingredients has grown from this foundation through his work in a variety of restaurants from traditional diners along the Gulf Coast to the renowned fine dining institutions of New York City. He spent two years studying at the New York Restaurant School of Manhattan, which has since been integrated into the broadly recognized national organization of the Art Institutes. While time in culinary classes deepened Paul’s understanding of the fundamental science behind cooking and taught him technical skills of the craft, he has found that his hands-on work in restaurants has truly provided the critical skills needed to run a high-volume kitchen.

Cooking for Ivy is vastly different than running a restaurant. In a commercial setting, food prices can be passed along to the customer, whereas at Ivy, a budget must be adhered to in order to provide for the year’s meals. The produce market is carefully monitored and the Club purchases from 20 different suppliers to ensure it is getting the best supplies at the most affordable price. The Club also works to reduce waste by offering the appetizer, pasta, and vegetable dinner elements in a family-style fashion. Yet, in accordance with tradition, the main course of dinner continues to be a plated and served fare.

Because the same members return each day, the staff strives to keep things interesting by exploring cuisines of the world and continually integrating different foods into the menu. The membership is engaged to provide suggestions and feedback via the undergraduate “Food Chair.” In addition to providing input on meal preferences, this member also keeps the House informed by sending out the daily menu to the full membership. 

Some meals, such as the hamburger lunch on Thursdays and the pasta and pizza dinner on Fridays, are standardized, but rare is the college student that expresses dislike for these weekly offerings. Over the past five years, the staff has seen that a larger percentage of the membership is now seeking lower calorie meal options. The salad bar has been expanded and vegetarian options are offered at each meal in response to this preference.

Meals at Ivy continue to be an important time for camaraderie and personal growth. As breaking bread together aids in the creation of lifelong friendships, we are proud that the quality of Ivy’s meals reflects the Club’s value for greatness. Next time you are in town we hope that you’ll slide in next to another member to feast on the culinary delights.