Students dine first-class at annual CSB Holiday Dinner
Campus & Community
December 7, 2023
By Frank Rajkowski
Traditions are such an important part of student life at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
And few are more special, or more fondly remembered, than the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at SJU and Holiday Dinner at CSB.
“Just seeing the excitement in our students faces as they gather together is what really makes it special for us,” said Carmen Welinski, the director of culinary services at CSB, in advance of this year’s holiday dinner, which was held Thursday night (Dec. 7) upstairs in the Gorecki Dining and Conference Center.
“It’s such a longstanding tradition. We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been here for a while now.”
Indeed the event, which is always held in December before the semester break, dates back over 35 years. It follows the Thanksgiving Dinner, which is traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving break (this year’s event took place on Nov. 15).
Welinski said it took a crew of 50-plus employees, as well as a dozen or more volunteers, to make Thursday’s event possible.
“And that’s just from our department,” she said. “There is also the setup crew from the custodial department who get everything ready and clean up afterward. We couldn’t do this without them.”
All told, well over 1,000 students were served buffet style Thursday.
Among the items on the menu were:
360 pounds of prime rib (which had been slow roasted since the night before).
170 pounds of salmon
A vegan-option roasted vegetable strudel dish
384 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (which the CSB Culinary team mashed themselves)
1,050 potato dinner rolls (made in the bakery at CSB)
2,562 cream puffs
100 pounds of chocolate in a chocolate fountain
“We have such a talented team and they are so skilled at preparing a top-flight meal for our students,” Welinski said.
Those students said they appreciated the effort that was put into preparing Thursday’s meal.
“It’s just such a special chance to enjoy being here with the people I love,” said Samantha Ortiz, a sophomore at CSB. “The food is great. Everything is amazing.”
“These dinners rank in the top three when it comes to my memories here,” added John Gannon, a senior at SJU. “The food is amazing and I get to spend time with the people I love.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Bailey Eakins, a senior at CSB.
“Events like this bring together the (campus community),” she said. “It’s a time for us to come together, get dressed up and celebrate. It’s nice to be able to take your mind off whatever else is going on.”
And, of course, have an amazing dinner.
“This is the best meal I’ve had all semester,” fellow CSB senior Trisha Gebhart said. “It’s just scrumptious. Everything is so great.”
The main course on Thursday night was prime rib, of which 360 pounds had been slow roasted since Wednesday night. For those who didn't want red meat, there was 170 pounds of salmon. The vegan option was roasted vegetable strudel.
The annual Saint Ben's Christmas dinner, which is always held in December before the semester break, dates back more than 35 years. It follows the Thanksgiving Dinner, which is traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving break at Saint John's, though this year's was on Nov. 15.
The chocolate fountain proved a popular destination for the students dining at Gorecki.