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Get a ‘clue’ during Culinary Studies Institute’s annual dinner

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 25, 2015

 Oakland Community College student Marnie Bentley, of Detroit, arranges a place setting during a planning meeting March 18 for the college’s upcoming mystery dinner.

Oakland Community College student Marnie Bentley, of Detroit, arranges a place setting during a planning meeting March 18 for the college’s upcoming mystery dinner.

Photo by Sean Work

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Murder will be on the menu at Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute’s whodunnit dinner party April 16.

“In the dining room, the skit all comes together,” OCC chef Athena Bolger said March 18 at the Orchard Ridge Campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Road. “At the end, they have to come up with a guess of who did it.”

The “Clue” themed dinner, based on the classic 1985 murder-mystery movie and board game, will begin at 6 p.m. on the third floor of Tirrell Hall/J Building at the Orchard Ridge campus.

The evening will feature a five-course meal with wine pairings, a cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres, according to a press release.

Red herrings, murder, mayhem and scrumptious eats — to die for — don’t just happen overnight. It takes multiple instructors, students and classes, such as the Event and Catering Management class and the Buffets and Banquets class, to bring the blood-curdling vision together.

OCC student Becca Dubicki, in the Events and Catering Management class, said her moment to shine is right before the event starts.

“I am excited to see the transformation here, specifically, because that was my job last time, so I know what they’re (students) going through. I know that it is not easy, but the last 10 minutes before the guests come and you have to say what (you did) is pretty incredible.”

She added that she looks forward to seeing how far the “shoestring” budget was stretched.

“I’m just looking forward to watching it all play out, because last year we did a good job,” Dubicki added.

Events and Catering Management class general manager Marko Armour sets the tone for the class through his leadership.

“We have to raise a lot of money, and it has been a task for everybody, and a lot of people donate money,” Armour said.

Chef Julie Selonke, who handles the kitchen aspect of the program, said her Buffets and Banquets class prices the menus and prepares the meals.

“We do a lot of the front side of it,” Selonke said.

Having a roughly $400 budget — with about a third of that spent on flowers — causes students and staff to rally together to refurbish items from past events and take donations.

Armour said he thought the last dinner looked “pretty good” for the small amount of money used.

“Granted, we have a lot of stuff from the other class before us, but it is kind of crazy when you think of how little money we are working with to how it comes out looking,” Armour said.

From bold red, white and black colors complementing centerpieces with tall, clear vases and a gold leaf charger, some designs are already set in place for the mysterious night.


“We have a lot of stuff to play with. It is just, how are you going to use it?”  Dubicki said. “The decor team has a fun job — a very stressful, creative job.”


Students are graded on how they bring ideas to the table, Selonke said.


“Communication is huge,” Bolger said. “Perseverance is definitely on there. There is always something that happens last minute ... so that was one of the things I think they learn a lot from.”


Students also get to grade managers on their managerial skills, which many students are learning about for the first time.


“This is the first time for them to spread their wings and get that experience here,” Selonke said.


“We’re not paying them to be here. They are required to be here,” as in “voluntold,” Bolger said. “That additional motivation requires a lot of patience.”


OCC’s theater program is also getting in on the fun by supplying the Culinary Studies Institute with actors to play “Clue” characters.


“During happy hour they will kind of be setting some teaser questions and little statements,” Bolger said. “Just giving (the crowd) enough to … try to remember.”


Prizes for those who guess the killer correctly include a chocolate revolver, a magnifying glass and baked goods.


“For these guys to actually put this together, I think it is great because anywhere they go in the industry I don’t think they start-to-finish an event like this,” Bolger said.


Armour added: “I think seeing the whole thing finished — that is probably the most rewarding part.”


Reservations are required. Tickets cost $55 per person, with a $5 discount for current students. Tickets can be ordered under the Culinary Events Schedule at www.oaklandcc.edu/culinary.


Call (248) 522-3700 for more information.

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