Cooking to please the family can be a tough task, but cooking to please the palates of thousands of students, faculty and staff can be next to impossible.
But Nora McAmis-Payne, food service manager at OTC, has faced the challenge head-on with positive results.
McAmis-Payne, who came to OTC last year after six years of working for Sodexo food service group at Missouri State University, oversees the daily operation of the college’s Caf 101.
The caf serves hundreds of meals a day to those on the Springfield campus. One of her first additions was to build up the menu and offer a daily special that was a cut above the routine fare of hot dogs and burgers.
“The menu needed some tweaking. We wanted to increase meal options and offer a wide variety of items that were high-end meals at a low price. We wanted to offer something that isn’t everyday run-of-the-mill meals,” McAmis-Payne said.
Helping her with that task is Peter Tracy, the former executive chef for Sodexo at MSU. He came to OTC this summer and has put his mark on the menu, too.
The two worked together at MSU, where they also prepared meals for the stars that performed on campus, including Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and George Carlin.
McAmis-Payne decides what dishes to offer as specials and Tracy designs the recipes based on the products available.
“We use the freshest ingredients we can get our hands on. We make the meals from scratch, from pounding the meat ourselves for a chicken-fried steak to the fixings for our taco salad that’s become a favorite on Fridays,” she said.
Dishes range in price from $5.99 to $6.99 and that includes a side dish and drink.
Tracy said he enjoys pushing the envelope with some of the dishes he has tried, including offering falafel, curries and stuffed meatloaf on certain days.
“In coming up with the specials, I wanted to take it to the next level. I wanted to offer home-cooked meals I love. Falafel is a popular item. It’s gone over well,”Tracy said.
“I like doing things off the wall.”
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.
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