Making dining magic at St. Bonaventure’s Harry Potter fest

Published in FSD C&U Spotlight

Dana Moran, Managing Editor

hogwarts great hall

Steaming cauldrons will meet school food Aug. 5-7 as St. Bonaventure University hosts its first Harry Potter-theme Spellbound Festival. The upstate New York school expects to play host to about 200 fans of the book and movie series at the event, timed to coincide with the July 31 release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the university said in a news release.

With a magical experience comes magical food, and Amy Vleminckx, general manager for Aramark at St. Bonaventure, is charged with making the Harry Potter universe come to life when Hickey Dining Hall becomes the Hogwarts school’s Great Hall. Working in collaboration with the school’s Office of Events and Conferences, which is responsible for decor, Vleminckx is scouring Potter cookbooks and the internet for the most authentic options to fill diners’ plates.

“Most of the Harry Potter recipes we are finding are desserts,” Vleminckx says. “We are still searching for more entree-type recipes so the whole meal can be centered around the theme.” Clearly, diners can’t subsist on Butterbeer and Chocolate Frogs for three days at events like a Friday night feast, Sorting Feast Celebration (after guests are placed in one of four Hogwarts houses) and a Midterm Feast Celebration.

While this is the first time St. Bonaventure has played host to Harry, Chestnut Hill College and the town of Chestnut, Penn., outside of Philadelphia have held an annual Harry Potter festival for the past five years that draws about 10,000 people, The Bradford Era reports. A conference on the series is held at the college, while the downtown area turns into the magical Potter villages of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. And Vleminckx says she certainly wouldn’t mind Harry becoming a regular figure at St. Bonnie’s. “We enjoy working on special menus,” she says. “It keeps us fresh and prevents us from settling into too much of a routine.

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