Good things cooking in The Harriers' Nest
February 14, 2008
Miami Hamilton’s Schwarm Commons has undergone many changes over the last several months, and new Harrier’s Nest manager Kelley McNeal has brought some changes of his own.
Chef Paul Prudhomme of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans introduced McNeal to the culinary world.
“I worked for a furniture store across the street from K-Paul’s,” McNeal says. “Chef Paul told me if I’d come eat at his restaurant, he’d teach me how good, healthy food was made.”
McNeal went on to earn a Chef Technology degree from Cincinnati Technical College (now Cincinnati State) and studied under Master Chef, John Kinsella, one of only 58 master chefs in the world.
McNeal has opened restaurants, worked for fast food places as well as more up-scale eateries, spent time as a sous-chef at the Drawbridge Inn and even taught inmates at Lebanon Correctional Institute how to cook. He counts French and Irish dishes among his favorites. Now, he’s bringing his culinary talents and 28 years experience to Miami Hamilton.
“My goal is to take care of faculty, staff and students as far as food goes. We want them to have a first-class product, good high quality food that tastes good and looks good. Hamburger and steak are basically the same meat, just presented differently. I was once told that it doesn’t matter what you serve; serve them well. That’s what we do. We strive for a high quality, top end types of food.”
McNeal is trying a variety of menus to determine what patrons prefer, but would appreciate more input from customers.
“We’re trying new specials everyday to see what our customers like.” He says. “The panini has gone over well, but I’d like to see more faculty and staff make suggestions so we can prepare foods more to their tastes. We’ve added more fresh salads as well as wraps with grilled chicken. One customer has requested a vegetable wrap and we’re glad to accommodate him. We encourage people to make requests.”
One of McNeal’s goals is to become more involved with the campus community.
“We’d like to work more with the student organizations. We’ve done a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Campus Kids and are willing to work with other units on campus who might need food for meetings or events.”
“There were 150 high school students on campus a couple of weeks ago and we served 148 of them. If we are given a heads-up for large groups, we can be better prepared. Kitchen space is limited, but we’ve ordered another stove which will be beneficial and we can also prepare cold foods, such as sandwiches and salads. We’re willing to work with everyone and do what we can if it is within the realm of possibility.”
Over the past five months, McNeal has seen business escalate, which has led to a needed increase in staffing.
“Shawna Bowlin was here when I came. She is a very nice person who has established a connection with many of our regular customers. We’ve also hired three student employees and depend on them a great deal. Everybody is cross trained so we all know what should be done to meet our goal and that is to always try and take care of the customer.”
McNeal invites everyone to stop by the Harrier’s Nest where breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are available. If you can’t find what you want, let McNeal know or leave a suggestion in the box on the counter.
The Harrier’s Nest is open Monday through Thursdays from 8am-6pm and Fridays from 8am-2pm during the academic year.