Delta dining destination is not just for students
By MARK H. STOWERS
The Bolivar Bullet
The Delta is full of great places to eat, but there’s one hide-away spot that draws quite an eclectic crowd.
Delta State’s Young Mauldin Cafeteria serves three meals daily and more. Under the supervision of General Manager Nicole Dupre and Chef Dennis Dunn, along with Catering Manager Lauren Smith, Retail Manager Derrick Brown, Marketing Intern Hailey Dennis and a crew of 80 total employees, Delta Dining feeds both students and the local hungry population.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the daily buffet pleases even the pickiest palette but more so feeds the hungry soul with southern favorites, Italian necessities and a whole lot more. Dupre, a Lafayette, Louisiana native, detailed the successful and delicious dining destination.
“Our fried chicken Wednesday, fried fish Friday and Sunday Brunch are all big hits,” said Dupre. “I’ve had to order more plates and we need an additional cashier. It’s all you can eat as long as you dine in. We do have a carryout offering as well. We have pizza and pasta, a grill area with ready-made grill items. We have a deli bar. We have a chef table with selected items prepared fresh. We have a full salad bar what we like to call the biggest salad bar in Mississippi with 40 plus items that also includes soups. We have a dessert area and we have our comfort food area that includes our chef selected meal of the day which includes on Wednesday fried and baked chicken and all the fixing’s. On Friday it’s fried and baked catfish. Then Saturday and Sunday we have brunch with fried chicken and breakfast items and all the other items.”
Jimmy McClellan and dozens more Delta area residents frequent Delta Dining to get great comfort food at a great price that doesn’t break the budget.
“We go there at least twice a week. We hit fried porkchop Monday and what we call old people day on Wednesday when we take old folks out for fried chicken,” said McClellan. “There’s so many varieties. There’s a specialty table in the middle and you never know what’s going be there. There’s a salad bar. They’ve got hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s a wide variety and they change it every day. You can way too much every time you go.”
McClellan enjoys seeing other Delta residents along with the students.
“It’s good food and we see a lot of people we know and have a little conversation every now and then. It’s real friendly, real easy and real quick. No waiting, it’s a buffet. We enjoy it a day or two a week,” he said.
Delta Dining’s social media shows off their specials such as International Food day on Mondays.
“We’ve done Japanese, Korean, Curry and Italian and we’ve done North African,” she said. “We’re busy.”
Chef Dennis and Dupre both hail from Louisiana and the Chef’s Joie de vivre (joy of life) according to Dupre is always on display through his food offerings and time spent with the hungry public.
“It comes to fruition through his food. He just loves entertaining and he’s always out people breathing and he always love to share his love of cooking,” said Dupre. “He has a Creole influence and has worked for Sodexho on the university segment and offshore. He’s worked on boats for these guys who are journeyman. He’s worked in New England for private parties, he’s catered for Oprah and Bill Clinton. He’s got a wide array of experience. He truly owns that kitchen. He’s done a phenomenal job reeling everybody in.”
The cafeteria has become a breeding ground for creativity with music and step shows breaking out during mealtime.
“It keeps us young,” said Dupre. “I love that about the university segment. They are outspoken and tell us when they love it and when they don’t like it. We’re going to tailgate at homecoming. We’ve never done that before.”
Sodexo is a name known across the US and the world. Especially on the college and sports scene.
“We have 600 universities and I’ve worked at a couple of dozen,” said Dupre. “We have other things outside of campus. We have superdomes and mega domes, we have healthcare so we’re in hospitals, we’re on planes and trains. We have contracts with Chevron and Shell. We have seven segments total and have a half billion employees across 50-plus countries.”
The cafeteria shuts down for four weeks during the Christmas break but does serve the students who have to remain on campus. Sodexho also provides catering, concessions, a licensed Chic File, Delta Drip – a Starbucks product coffee shop as well as a licensed Firehouse Subs and a licensed Burrito Bowl and Freshens Smoothie all in the H.L. Nowell Student Union.