Chef Essig's Featured Event --- Soul Food Items

February is Black History Month

This is a time to honor and celebrate African American culture... of course here in Dining Services, that means we celebrate with FOOD!

The term "Soul Food" means just that... it's food that is not made from a recipe, but it is made from the soul. It is created out of resourcefulness and not out of excess. It touches a part of you beyond taste buds and does more than just fill your stomach. It satisfies, sustains, and rejuvenates your soul.

The History of Soul Food

The history of Soul Food cannot be separated from the history of slavery in America. The endless hard work that was demanded every day required a diet that would sustain and provide energy. Unfortunately, not all landowners placed feeding slaves at the top of their priority list. More often than not, it was up to the slaves to fend for themselves using the knowledge of dishes they had been familiar with in their homeland, while using the ingredients available to them at that time.

Limited Ingredients

Often the secondary cuts or offal (discarded/garbage) meats were scavenged. Pigs' feet, hocks, and intestines, along with chicken gizzards, hearts, and necks were some of the meats available. Other wild animals such as squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and opossum were available as well - if they could catch them. Sometimes small flocks of chickens were permitted to be raised.

For vegetables, they were limited to whatever they could gather from the surrounding area or grow in small plots. Wild greens including dandelion, chicory, mustard, and pokeweed were staples, along with hearty root vegetables such as turnips and beets. These are some of the ingredients we still see today in classic "Soul Food dishes."

Simple Yet Satisfying

Soul Food tends to be simple in preparation and presentation, high in fat, carbohydrates, calories, and sodium... but even higher in satisfying your hunger and your soul. The dishes that were created during this time are still common today.

There are many more refined versions and offerings now, but most are still simple, hearty, and could be considered comfort food. If it is a food you grew up with, or if it stirs memories of home, family, comfort, and touches a part of you that no other food does, then it could be considered a Soul Food for you.

Please join us during the month of February for a few Soul Food dishes in Holmes Dining Hall and Tobey-Kendel Dining Room (dates/meals are listed below). Come celebrate, eat, and enjoy!

Dining Services worked with the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center again this year to feature "Soul Food" items throughout the month of February in honor of Black History Month. Thank you for choosing the items you wanted featured!

Want a printable version of the menu items listed below?

Soul Food Dishes featured = Holmes Dining Hall

  • 5th @ Dinner: Breakfast at Night, Tater Tots, Cornbread, Banana Cream Pie
  • 6th @ Lunch: Honey Glazed Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
  • 6th @ Dinner: Pork Chops, Stuffing, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Potato Casserole, Peas & Carrots
  • 8th @ Lunch: Pork Loin, Red Beans & Rice
  • 10th @ Lunch: Peanut Butter Pie
  • 11th @ Lunch: Bacon Cheddar Chicken, Grilled Catfish, Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • 14th @ Lunch: Catfish Po' Boys
  • 15th @ Lunch: Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice Croquettes, Maque Choux
  • 18th @ Lunch: Fried Chicken, Broccoli Bake, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
  • 18th @ Dinner: Blackened Chicken, Dirty Rice, Maque Choux
  • 19th @ Lunch: Honey Mustard Pork Loin, Sweet Potato Fries
  • 21st @ Dinner: Cream of Tomato Soup, BBQ Pork Cutlets, Sweet Corn Cakes, Scalloped Potatoes
  • 25th @ Dinner: BBQ Pork Shanks, Sweet Potato Souffle, Cornmeal Catfish, Red Beans & Rice
  • 26th @ Lunch: Chicken Andouille Gumbo, Chicken Etouffee, Hush Puppies
  • 27th @ Lunch: Beef Okra Stew, BBQ Beef, Mac & Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup

Soul Food Dishes featured = Tobey-Kendel Dining Room

  • 4th @ Lunch: Meatloaf, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, Sweet Potato Fries, Banana Pudding
  • 4th @ Dinner: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes, Southern Fried Fish
  • 5th @ Lunch: Chicken Fried Steak, Chicken Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice
  • 5th @ Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie w/ Biscuits, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • 6th @ Lunch: Mac & Cheese Bar
  • 7th @ Lunch: Fried Chicken, Corn Dogs, Mashed Potatoes
  • 10th @ Dinner: Cornbread Muffins, Buttered Noodles, Breaded Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
  • 11th @ Lunch: BBQ Chicken, Macaroni & Ham Salad
  • 12th @ Dinner: Short Ribs, Cheese Grits
  • 13th @ Lunch: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • 14th @ Lunch: Mac & Cheese, BBQ Pork, Grilled Catfish, Red Beans & Rice
  • 15th @ Dinner: Catfish, Hush Puppies, Collard Greens, Red Beans & Rice
  • 16th @ Dinner: Cornbread, Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes
  • 18th @ Lunch: BLT Bar, Fried Fish, Hush Puppies, Okra, Corn
  • 19th @ Dinner: Pork Shanks, Mashed Potatoes, Greens, Banana Cream Pie
  • 24th @ Dinner: Roasted Turkey, Corn Fritters, Mashed Potatoes, Greens, Pork Chops, Corn Bread
  • 25th @ Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, BBQ Beef, Corn on the Cob, Au Gratin Potatoes
  • 25th @ Dinner: Caribbean Pork Steak, Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
  • 26th @ Lunch: Blackened Catfish, Etouffee, Corn Fritters
  • 27th @ Dinner: Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken, Hush Puppies, Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas
  • 28th @ Dinner: Pork Chops, Jerk Chicken, Stuffing


Here in Dining Services, "We Feed The Bears!"

Chef EssigHappy Dining from Executive Chef Essig!

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)

Hungry and not sure where to eat? We can help you decide... check out the weekly menus often to see what each dining room is serving. You can also call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus. Students living in the residence halls can access weekly menus on the VOIP phones in their rooms.

Students: add meals and/or Dining Dollars to your UNC Card

Faculty/Staff: sign up for the payroll deduction program

Have questions, comments, or suggestions?? Email us at