EATING AT THE EDGE

Mike Stagnaro is expecting 200 for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch. Every day.

A Marriott employee, Stagnaro manages the Edge, a two-year-old dining hall in the Bryan complex, and is also manager of catering operations on campus. He has been at Colgate for ten years.

"I grew up in a typical second-generation Italian family -- we had huge meals every night," says Stagnaro, whose passion for food began there, in his mother's kitchen.

His first paying job was at a McDonald's. "I was a McKid and I learned what it was like to work hard and what the pressure of this business can be." As his career progressed, Stagnaro gained restaurant experience and a clearer definition of what he loved -- "Entertaining people."

Today, there is an educational component, too. Stagnaro isn't shy about challenging palates trained on mall food. "I want to help educate students to what's out there. I want the Edge to be an educational dining hall. Toward that end, Stagnaro held a recent vegetarian night with 14 dishes, many featuring grains. "I've got the world of curry coming up. We'll bebop around the globe."

Feeding students is a "work in progress," according to Stagnaro. "We did a blue corn polenta with gorgonzola and roasted peppers and by the third time we figured out how to do it right for 200. You can be as creative [at the dining hall], it's just more difficult to be perfect."

Heading up catering means everything from chips and dips for a small reception to three-course trustee dinners where "it's got to be perfect and completely out of the ordinary. That's where it gets really interesting. Every high-end party I've ever done, I've learned something."

Mike Stagnaro is in the kitchen and all's right with the world. JH